Career Profile – Richard Hoshino

Degree: Ph.D. in Mathematics
Position: Postdoctoral fellow in graph theory
Location: National Institute of Informatics

If you present a problem to Richard Hoshino, he’ll most likely come back with a mathematical solution. Richard’s passion for math is evident throughout every project he undertakes, be it research, education, or volunteer work.

Richard’s enthusiasm for mathematics began early in life. He actively competed in mathematics competitions throughout high school and was a member of the Canadian team to the 1996 International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Richard has a B.Math from the University of Waterloo and a B.Ed from Queen’s University, and he obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Dalhousie University in 2008.

Richard is currently a postdoctoral fellow in graph theory at the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo, Japan. His research focus is the creation of mathematically-optimal schedules for professional sports leagues, focusing on the popular Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) in Japan. “My supervisor and I have developed the best possible NPB intra-league schedule that meets all of the league scheduling requirements, while reducing total travel by 25% as compared to the distance traveled by these teams during the 2010 season,” says Richard. “Repeating the analysis for NPB inter-league play, we found a distance-optimal schedule that reduces total travel by 16%.” Richard has presented these findings at conferences around the world in the hopes his research will be implemented, as reduction of travel distance would have significant economic and environmental benefits.

In the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March 2011, Richard became involved with CRASH Japan, a Tokyo-based relief organization that supports and equips churches in disaster areas. In this most unlikely of places, Richard’s math background proved to be a strong asset to the organization. He realized that the complicated volunteer scheduling process could be simplified using techniques in Scheduling Optimization and Graph Theory, thus making the work of the organization more efficient.

Richard has applied his mathematical knowledge to many other volunteer initiatives, including: founding and directing Dalhousie Math Circles, an outreach program for high school students; acting as director of the CMS National Math Camp; serving on various problem committees for math competitions, and founding and directing the Nova Scotia High School Math League.

Richard is currently working on a novel entitled The Math Olympian. The story focuses on a teenage girl who commits herself to the goal of representing Canada at the IMO, and from that decision discovers meaning and purpose. The novel draws from Richard’s own experience as a math olympian and as a mentor to mathematically-inclined students. Richard hopes The Math Olympian will “challenge the common stereotype that mathematics can only be done by boys, nerds, and Asians, and reveal how with inspired mentorship, anyone can succeed in mathematics and develop the confidence, creativity, and critical-thinking skills so essential in life.”