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Brian Cantwell Smith

Brian Cantwell Smith

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Brian Cantwell Smith is a scholar in the fields of cognitive science
Cognitive science
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on how information is processed , represented, and transformed in behaviour, nervous system or machine...

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, information studies, and philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, especially ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

. His research has focused on the foundations and philosophy of computing, both in the practice and theory of computer science, and in the use of computational metaphors in other fields, such as philosophy, cognitive science, physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, and art. Smith was Dean
Dean (education)
In academic administration, a dean is a person with significant authority over a specific academic unit, or over a specific area of concern, or both...

 of the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 from 2003–2008; he is currently professor of information, computer science, and philosophy at University of Toronto.

Smith's 1982 doctoral dissertation introduced the notion of computational reflection in programming languages, an area of active ongoing research in computer science. Past publications have addressed questions in computational reflection, meta-level architecture, programming languages, and knowledge representation
Knowledge representation
Knowledge representation is an area of artificial intelligence research aimed at representing knowledge in symbols to facilitate inferencing from those knowledge elements, creating new elements of knowledge...

. Over the last decade, his work has focused on fundamental issues in the foundations of epistemology, ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

, and metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...


Smith received his BS, MS and PhD degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

. He was a founder of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, and a founder and first president of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is a global organization promoting the responsible use of computer technology. in 1983 . It educates policymakers and the public on a wide range of issues...

. Smith served as principal scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, in the 1980s.

Smith is the author of more than 35 articles and three books, including a seven-volume series entitled The Age of Significance: An Essay on the Origins of Computation and Intentionality (forthcoming). One of his books is called On the Origin of Objects, MIT Press, 1996.

Smith holds a Canada Research Chair in the Foundations of Information, and is cross-appointed as Professor in the departments of Philosophy and Computer Science and in the Program in Communication, Culture and Technology at University of Toronto at Mississauga. His father was the celebrated scholar of religion Wilfred Cantwell Smith
Wilfred Cantwell Smith
Wilfred Cantwell Smith was a Canadian professor of comparative religion who from 1964-1973 was director of Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions. The Harvard Gazette characterized him as one of the field's most influential figures of the past century...


External links