|An interdisciplinary and bicultural writer, scholar and scientist. |
Formally trained as a metallurgist (B.E., first class, University of Calcutta) and as a computer scientist (M.Sc, Ph.D, University of Alberta), I hold the Computer Science Trust Fund Eminent Scholar Chair in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where I'm also Professor & Director, Institute of Cognitive Science; Professor, School of Computing & Informatics; and Professor, Department of History. I teach undergraduate and graduate courses that straddle cognitive science, creativity, history of science, computer science, philosophy of science and intellectual history.
In an earlier incarnation I was the Dowty Professor of Computer Systems Engineering in the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology in England, and have held visiting appointments of one kind or another in Wolfson Clollege and the Computing Laboratory, Oxford University, the Computer Laboratory in Cambridge University, the Departments of Informatik in the Technical University of Aachen and University of Oldenberg (both in Germany), the School of Computer Science in the Indian Institute of Science, and the Centre for Systems Science in Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Author of fourteen books published in the United States, England and India. My abiding interest in creativity in the sciences, art, literature, engineering and scholarship is reflected in my writings of the past quarter century. My books address such topics as the invention of the computer, the nature of technological creativity, biographical studies of natural scientists, social scientists, artists and scholars, the theory and nature of the design process, and the intellectual history of creative movements.
In addition, some seventy research papers and scholarly articles have been published in journals and books devoted to computer science, science & technology studies, creativity, art and aesthetics, philosophy, and engineering design theory.
Nowadays I see myself as a storyteller. I like to tell stories about creative events -- about singular acts of creation as how a 19th century Scottish engineer conceived a new kind of bridge; about creative lives, as that of a turn of the 19th century Indian science pioneer, or a mid-20th century American polymath, or a late 20th century American painter; and about the paths of creative movements and traditions such as the flowering of a cultural/social / intellectual awakening in 19th century Bengal in India and how it shaped the minds of 20th century Indians; or the creation of a brand new science in Europe and America in the first half of the 20th century.
I am fascinated with how minds rooted in different cultures interact and shape one another. I was born in India, spent my boyhood in England, attained adulthood in India and have lived most of my working life in Canada and America, with interludes in England and India. Because of this I am haunted by the idea of the cross-cultural mind, in particular what I call the 'Indo-Western mind', the mind shaped by Ithe melding of Indian and Western cultures. My writings and the choice of stories to tell about creativity have been profoundly shaped by my personal Indo-Western identity.
Another kind of cross-culturalism that has long interested me is the straddling of, the breaking down of barriers between, disciplinary cultures: the scientific, the artistic, the literary and the technological. Which is why I have studied and written about the 'Renaissance mind', past and present.
My story-telling urge along with my obsession with creativity have led me to another realm: what in the literary world is called 'creative writing'. To wit, reconstructing my personal past by writing a memoir of growing up a brown Bengali-Indian boy in a very white England in the 1950s; and two novels that explore the lives of Bengalis in Western cultural and intellectual milieux.