Evolved Representation and Computational Creativity


  • Ashraf Fouad Hafez Ismail




computational creativity, evolved representation, design processes, evolutionary algorithms, search space


Advances in science and technology have influenced designing activity in architecture throughout its history. Observing the fundamental changes to architectural designing due to the substantial influences of the advent of the computing era, we now witness our design environment gradually changing from conventional pencil and paper to digital multi-media. Although designing is considered to be a unique human activity, there has always been a great dependency on design aid tools. One of the greatest aids to architectural design, amongst the many conventional and widely accepted computational tools, is the computer-aided object modeling and rendering tool, commonly known as a CAD package. But even though conventional modeling tools have provided designers with fast and precise object handling capabilities that were not available in the pencil-and-paper age, they normally show weaknesses and limitations in covering the whole design process.In any kind of design activity, the design worked on has to be represented in some way. For a human designer, designs are for example represented using models, drawings, or verbal descriptions. If a computer is used for design work, designs are usually represented by groups of pixels (paintbrush programs), lines and shapes (general-purpose CAD programs) or higher-level objects like ‘walls’ and ‘rooms’ (purpose-specific CAD programs).A human designer usually has a large number of representations available, and can use the representation most suitable for what he or she is working on. Humans can also introduce new representations and thereby represent objects that are not part of the world they experience with their sensory organs, for example vector representations of four and five dimensional objects. In design computing on the other hand, the representation or representations used have to be explicitly defined. Many different representations have been suggested, often optimized for specific design domains or design methods, but each individual computational design system has only one or very few different representations available.Whatever the choice of the representation, it is likely to influence the outcome of the design process. In any representation, some designs may be more difficult to represent than others, and some designs may not be representable at all.The same applies if the design process is implemented in a computer program. If a design cannot be represented with a given representation, it cannot be the outcome of a design process using this representation. As is the case for human designers, it is also possible that the representation influences a computational design process such that it is easier for the program to find some designs than others. Depending on the design process used, this might make those designs a more likely outcome of the design process. This is for example the case with stochastic optimization processes, like evolutionary systems and simulated annealing. In these cases, the representation is likely to introduce a bias into the design process.The selection of the representation is therefore of high importance in the development of a computational design system. Obviously, while choosing the representation the programmer has to ensure that all or as many as possible potentially ‘interesting’ designs can be represented. But it is also generally desirable to minimize the bias introduced by the representation. In contrast to the user-provided design criteria, the bias caused by the representation influences the outcome of the design process in an implicit way which is not obvious to the user, and is difficult to predict and control.The idea developed in this research is that it is possible to turn the bias caused by the representation into a virtue, by deliberately choosing or modifying the representation to influence the design process in a certain desired way. The resulting ‘focusing’ of the search process is connected to the idea of ‘expansion of search spaces’, a notion used in some definitions of computational creativity. Both ‘focusing’ and ‘expansion of search space’ will be explored in this research.

Author Biography

Ashraf Fouad Hafez Ismail