Upgrade 2021: Day 2 Goes Technical

This year’s Upgrade 2021 research summit covered a lot of territory. We reviewed the three demos from Day 1 in another blog. The opening day began with a welcome by NTT Research President Kazuhiro Gomi, which included remarks from NTT President and CEO, Jun Sawada, and EVP and Head of NTT R&D, Katsuhiko Kawazoe. That day’s events also featured a blockchain roundtable, a spirited panel discussion of the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) initiative and a session on the concept of a data twin as a catalyst for a better world.  

While Day 1 was busy, Day 2 was packed even fuller, with eight concurrent half-hour sessions for the three NTT Research labs. For online attendees, this translated into virtual rooms for each track. A subsequent hour-long session of brief poster presentations followed. Here, we’ll briefly survey the themes and topics covered by NTT Research scientists and invited presenters in the longer scheduled talks.

Day 2 Agenda

The NTT Research Cryptography & Information Security (CIS) Lab is divided into two research areas. One of those, blockchain, the focus of an opening day roundtable, was featured in a Day 2 discussion of user competition in the Bitcoin market. The other CIS Lab talks covered a range of cryptographic topics, including program obfuscation, common reference string (CRS) generation, basic questions about the security of block cipher, zero-knowledge arguments for non-deterministic polynomial time (NP), private data aggregation, questions about the security of the popular Signal protocol, and a close look, motivated by side channel attacks, at the lattice barrier for the hidden number problem.

Talks in the Medical & Health Informatics (MEI) Lab track reflected this group’s research agenda, including bio digital twins and nano-sensors. Representative of the latter category were talks on transformable 3D neuroelectronic interfaces and smart microelectronics for human interfaces. In terms of the digital twin, there were talks on bio digital twins in health and disease, the validation of a hemodynamic digital twin for intensive care support and lessons learned from building healthy and diseased hearts. This track also included a strategic talk on the future of medicine and another on the use of digital twins to relate genome to phenome.

In the Physics & Informatics (PHI) Lab track, the talks covered several of the lab’s main areas of work, including optics, neural networking, and the coherent Ising machine (CIM). Examples from the first two groups included discussions of nonlinear nanophotonics, the natural science of artificial networks and the relationship between optics and deep learning. In the latter category were papers discussing a simulation platform for the CIM, statistical mechanics in the CIM and the status of the CIM and Laser & Solve (LASOLV) at NTT Basic Research labs.

Sparking Curiosity

Beyond the ongoing NTT Research mission to “Upgrade Reality,” this year’s summit had a secondary theme. In his opening remarks, President Gomi said that while necessity is indeed one of the mothers of invention, there is another driver. “I believe that curiosity is also driving a number of inventions and innovations,” he said. 

Upgrade 2021 was a busy, unique and inspiring gathering that provided specialists and novices alike reasons to deepen their interest in the subjects discussed and even inspire wonder. “Through this event’s presentations, demonstrations and discussions,” Gomi said, “I would like to achieve that objective of sparking your curiosity.”