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Prof. Alex Doboli Studies Creativity in Design

The ECE department’s Alex Doboli is part of a multi-university team that has been working on the research project “INSPIRE: The Hunting of the Spark: A Systematic Study of Natural Creativity in Human Networks”. The project studies how novel ideas propagate in large groups of people – specifically how research ideas percolate through the technical community. More generally the team is studying creativity.

The team is led by Prof. Ali Minai of the University of Cincinnati and includes groups at Cincinnati, Stony Brook University, the University of Texas at Arlington and Hofstra University on Long Island. The project is funded by National Science Foundation and extends from 2012 to 2015.

Prof. Doboli is specifically studying how creative design ideas pass thru the electronic circuit design community. He is developing software to mine ideas appearing in technical articles in electronic format. This software must connect to databases of articles and build a knowledge structure from them. Earlier work on social networks by other researchers examined how connections were made between people operating in networks but did not examine the inherent meaning of the communication, as this work does.

Prof. Doboli worked on an earlier grant in design and information technology creativity (“Major Collaborative Proposal: CreativeIT: Understanding the Creative Design Process: A Novel Cognitive Model Based on Behavioral Experiments in Circuit Design and Architecture”) whose purpose was to examine parallels between creativity in circuit design, architectural engineering, and creativity in general. This earlier grant focused on individuals, not groups as the new project does.

This work is important because creativity is a major driver for new technical advancements and economic growth. Much of what we know about creativity, even today, is of an ad-hoc nature. The conclusions reached by this study will have applicability in other technical fields and perhaps even in non-technical fields.

Prof. Doboli received his Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati in 2000. He has been at Stony Brook since then and is now an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Stony Brook students know him as the instructor in such courses as VLSI System Design, Physical and Logical Level Design Automation and also in Hardware/Software Co-Design.