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Fujitsu boffins to help build uni exam-beating bot

Japanese high school students rejoice!

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Workers at IT giant Fujitsu will try to make every stressed-out Japanese student’s dream come true by building a robot capable of passing one the country’s most taxing university entrance exams.

The Todai Robot project was begun in 2011 by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII) to answer a simple question: “Can a Robot Pass the University of Tokyo (Todai) Entrance Exam?".

The project will hope to spur on those companies and engineers who join to building an artificial brain capable of passing Japan’s regular university entrance exams (nyugaku shiken) by 2016 and the more arduous Todai exams by 2021, Fujitsu said.

Each February, high school students up and down the land battle, often through feet of snow, to take the nyugaku shiken administered by the National Centre for University Entrance Examinations.

However, Todai is one of the country’s superior National Seven Universities and requires students to take an additional exam which includes maths as a compulsory subject.

Appropriately enough, Fujitsu said it is participating in the AI project as the maths team, building on its several years of research in formula manipulation and computer algebra, and with a greater goal than merely passing the exam:

Fujitsu Laboratories sees its involvement in the Todai Robot math team as a way to develop, along with the NII, the technologies that will be needed for human-centric IT. The hope is that the technologies developed as part of this project will enable anyone to easily use sophisticated mathematical analysis tools, which will lead to solutions for a wide range of real-world problems, and even the automation of mathematical analysis and optimisation.

Fujitsu said that in order to help the robot pass the entrance exams, it needs to work on three stages; semantic analysis to understand the question text; formulation to convert that text into a machine readable format that a program can execute; and calculation using a mathematical solver.

If you can read Japanese, and want to have a crack at typical exam questions Japanese high school students need to pass, the Wall Street Journal has supplied the following links to the national and Todai university entrance exams. ®

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