Fellow 2018-19

Lav Varshney

Electrical & Computer Engineering

A Mathematical Theory of Creativity

Varshney imageCreativity is often thought of as the pinnacle of human intelligence. Computational creativity systems within the field of artificial intelligence such as IBM Chef Watson (conceptualized and led by the PI) or Google Magenta are now approaching human creative abilities. But are there limits to how creative any system can be, whether human, machine, or hybrid? Just as thermodynamics established the fundamental mathematical limits of energy systems and information theory established the fundamental mathematical limits of communication systems, Professor Varshney aims to establish the fundamental mathematical limits of creativity systems in terms of basic tradeoffs between novelty and quality in the creative domain. He will also study whether or not particular cognitive systems are close to fundamental limit. One key step in proving mathematical theorems is to first establish a closed deductive system within which to reason, by abstracting and preserving only the most important aspects of the problem. As such, one key point of discussion of interest across the academy is whether intentionality is needed in creativity. In addition to the setting of one creator, the proposed work will also consider group creativity.