Jonathan Lenchner  Jonathan Lenchner photo         

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Research on the Foundations of Computer Science
Teaming and Collaboration Research: Understanding what makes a great team great

IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598



I am a researcher at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.  My current work focuses on two areas: (1) Fundamental research on the foundations of computer science, and (2) Getting to the heart of effective teaming and collaboration - what makes great teams great. I am also the host of the IBM podcast series "On Not Knowing".

My interest in the foundations of computer science is related to the famous P vs. NP problem. I am investigating ways of separating NP from coNP (and thereby P from NP) using games. I also want to understand the class of problems in NP by looking at how problems in P can be embedded into the language of different NP complete problems.

My interest in teaming arose, in part, out of work I did several years ago with the Toronto Rapors of the National Basketball Association where we built a system to help the Raptors with trades and draft picks. In the time since I have wondered about what distinguishes a great team from a collection of merely great players. I have started analyzing this problem in great detail in the context of professional basketball with the hope of bringing the insights to research teams, and more generally still, to teams in the very competitive technology industry.

From May 2016 through November of 2018 I was the chief scientist of IBM Research Africa and was based in Nairobi, Kenya. I got the chance to work with a great group of scientists and engineers in our two labs in Nairobi and Johannesburg, South Africa on problems in healthcare, inclusive financial services, public sector, Blockchain, and water & agriculture . 

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.

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.

My academic interests are in the areas of discrete, combinatorial, and computational geometry. I am particularly attracted to simple to state problems in discrete geometry. 

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