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Invention as a combinatorial process: evidence from US patents

Invention as a combinatorial process: evidence from US patents | Creativity - Problem Solving | Scoop.it

Invention has been commonly conceptualized as a search over a space of combinatorial possibilities. Despite the existence of a rich literature, spanning a variety of disciplines, elaborating on the recombinant nature of invention, we lack a formal and quantitative characterization of the combinatorial process underpinning inventive activity. Here, we use US patent records dating from 1790 to 2010 to formally characterize invention as a combinatorial process. To do this, we treat patented inventions as carriers of technologies and avail ourselves of the elaborate system of technology codes used by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to classify the technologies responsible for an invention's novelty. We find that the combinatorial inventive process exhibits an invariant rate of ‘exploitation’ (refinements of existing combinations of technologies) and ‘exploration’ (the development of new technological combinations). This combinatorial dynamic contrasts sharply with the creation of new technological capabilities—the building blocks to be combined—that has significantly slowed down. We also find that, notwithstanding the very reduced rate at which new technologies are introduced, the generation of novel technological combinations engenders a practically infinite space of technological configurations.

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Rescooped by Bernard Ryefield from Complexity - Complex Systems Theory
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Hunting the spark of creativity

Hunting the spark of creativity | Creativity - Problem Solving | Scoop.it

Until recently, decision makers could only effectively harness shared creativity from relatively small mastermind groups such as boards, panels or committees. Data from these could be placed in pre-organized, well-structured and well-categorized "buckets" to extract creative knowledge.

The relatively recent growth and development of the Internet, however, along with social network technology, provides an opportunity to expand the mastermind concept to hundreds, or thousands or even hundreds of thousands of geographically distant people.

University of Cincinnati complex systems scientist Ali Minai and a team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are attempting to do just that—to develop computer-based tools to mine the Internet and communities of social media for creative insights.

 

 

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Reggie Walker's curator insight, November 10, 2013 7:44 PM

Cool study. Find your spark and share it!

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The Spark of Invention | TIME.com

The Spark of Invention | TIME.com | Creativity - Problem Solving | Scoop.it
A Time/Qualcomm poll reveals a world of opinions about who inventors are, how they do their work and which countries used to be—and will be—the most inventive
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