Computational creativity

This week I’ve been reading some papers from the International Conference on Computational Creativity. Among the usual dross you find at every conference there are some hidden gems, like these quotes from jazz musicians in a paper titled “Designing Improvisational Interfaces”.

The story goes that Miles Davis once asked John Coltrane why his solos were so long. John Coltrane replied “I don’t know how to stop.” to which Miles responded with “Try taking the f** horn out of your mouth.”

Another fun paper is “Generative Mixology: An Engine for Creating Cocktails”, which

details an expert cocktail generation system. After using expert knowledge to break down cocktails into eight categories, the system generates cocktails from a particular category using a context-free stochastic grammar. These cocktails were then evaluated by human participants in a research setting. Participants evaluated the cocktails on the basis of quality, novelty and typicality to check the creative potential of the generator’s output.

My favorite paper so far is “A Discussion on Serendipity in Creative Systems”. It reminded of my first year as a graduate student, when I was casting around for a dissertation topic. I was thinking a lot about computational creativity, although I didn’t know that field existed. (It’s a long way from the systems part of Computer Science.) I wrote a paper about “Small-scale peer-to-peer overlays”, where I discussed ideas about building a peer-to-peer network that could help people emulate the experience of serendipitously discovering books among barely-organized shelves – much as I used to do at my favorite book store in Tulsa, Gardner’s.