東京大学大学院 情報学環・学際情報学府 The University of Tokyo III / GSII


January 24, 2020

「すべてを保存する」無邪気な問いの力:「APLLO」田村賢哉さんインタビューWhat is "archiving everything"?: an interview with Tamura Kenya, developer of the open-source database APLLO







Tamura Kenya, a Ph.D. student in the GSII and the founder and director of Darwin Education, has been developing an open-source database system called “APLLO.” In April of 2019, APLLO made headlines for reaching the highest fund-raising price in the history crowdfunding in Japan.

APLLO is a new form of open-source database that can capture the “context” of information by structurally storing the meaning and the interpretation of data, not only the relevance of data. It has already been used by various domestic and international organizations and projects, including the United Nations International School, Wilmington University in the United States, and Toppan Printing Co. Ltd.

The development of APLLO leverages Tamura’s research efforts to archive and represent spatial information. Having majored in geography until his master’s degree, Tamura devoted himself to the field of art engineering at the Tokyo Metropolitan University for his doctoral research. After that, he moved to the Watanabe Hidenori Laboratory of the GSII. Tamura sees his study of art engineering as dealing with the ‘graph’ part of ‘geography’. His current work returns to the ‘geo’ part. While pondering the idea of ‘geo’, he arrived at a question: “In the past, geographers were people who worked to collect information on lands they were utterly unaware of. What kind of work can be the same thing in the present day?” This question was the beginning of APLLO.

According to Tamura, APLLO is a long-term project that may take over 200 years to complete because it has the seemingly impossible goal of “archiving all information”, including the context, interpretation, texture, and variability of data itself that have usually been omitted from existing database systems.

Tamura says that such an ingenuous goal existing at the base of APLLO is also crucial in doing research. “Now the world, people tend to value things that are easy to understand and easy to achieve, but I think it is valuable to do something for a long time. And what is essential when someone does something for a long time is a simple and ingenuous question like what is it to archive all information.” He added that he hopes every colleague in the GSII also values such simplicity in their research.

Text: Eunbyul Ahn (PhD student, the editorial committee)
Proofreading: David Buist (Project senior specialist, the editorial committee)