Jan Zytkow received his Ph.D. from Warsaw University in Philosophy of Science in 1972, and his habilitation in 1979. He was a Visiting Professor at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he worked on machine discovery, collaborating with Herbert Simon and Pat Langley. In 1984 he joined the Wichita State University where he was a Professor of Computer Science (and CS Chair from 1996). In addition to his research on discovery, he worked on autonomous decision making and learning mechanisms for automated pilot, and on computer vision. He founded a machine discovery laboratory in which automated computer systems together with robotic hardware perform experiments and build theories in chemistry, mechanics and the like. Other research activities in the laboratory include discovery of hidden structure, discovery in databases, and discovery in geometry. Since the Fall of 1997 he has been a computer science faculty at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he moved his discovery laboratory.

His academic career includes visiting professorships at Carnegie-Mellon University (Fall 1992), George Mason University (from 1988 to 1990), Humboldt University (Berlin), Moscow State University, University of Salzburg (Austria), London School of Economics, and the Inter-University Center (Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia). He has authored above 150 research papers, co-authored a book ("Scientific Discovery: Computational Explorations of the Creative Processes" by MIT Press), and edited a number of books (including "Handbook of Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery" by Oxford University Press, and "Machine Discovery" by Kluwer), proceedings, and journal issues. He has been an invited speaker at many scientific meetings. He has served or is currently serving on the program chairs of many International conferences and workshops, including International Workshop on Machine Discovery, European Symposium on Principles of Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery.