Jonathan Lenchner


Jonathan Lenchner


Foundations of Computer Science


IBM Research - Yorktown Heights Yorktown Heights, NY USA


I am a researcher at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. My current work focuses on exploring the connection between how hard it is to describe algorithmic problems and how hard it is to solve them. We explore this connection by analyzing different sorts of combinatorial games. I am also working on the connection between information theory and mathematical logic, and the potential use of AI to help resolve open problems in physics.

I am a big proponent of what has come to be known as the “growth mindset” (a notion coined by the behavioral psychologist Carol Dweck). Key to this idea are the notions of life-long learning and the continual reinvention of the self. I host an IBM podcast series 'On Not Knowing', that explores different facets of this idea with a variety of guests.

From May 2016 through November of 2018 I was the chief scientist of IBM Research Africa and was based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Prior to my time in Africa I was one of the principal investigators at the Cognitive Environments Lab, or CEL, at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (my current location). At that lab we worked on bringing immersive computing technologies to social environments. A special interest of mine was (and still is) creating technology that helps us engage with each other and with the world in a more meaningful way. Most of our technology today seems to do the opposite. During this time I got to work with the Toronto Rapors of the National Basketball Association. We built them a system to help with trades and draft picks.

Prior to my work on cognitive environments I worked on a mobile robot for autonomously mapping, monitoring and managing the energy and thermal properties of a computer data center. I also worked on the strategy component of the IBM Joepardy-playing program known as Watson.

I have also created two fun-to-play mathematical games. You can purchase physcial copies or play for free online at and