# Mathematical theory of beautiful design - Fun weekend post

There is an interesting article in Sunday edition of The Boston Globe

newspaper about a mathematical theory of beauty in design - the claim is

that you can determine what people will find beautiful in design artifacts

(painting, buildings, furniture, ....) through a mathematical relationship

of complexity and transformations.

http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2009/02/22/beauty/?page=1

When I was a grad student working in social psychology I wrote a paper

called "The calculus of dating" with graphs and regression equations. I

based the paper on social exchange theory and balance theory. I applied the

concept 20 years later and it helped me meet my wife :-)

I'm going to the exhibit next weekend to get the exhibit brochure and will

report on the math.

Chauncey

## Comments

manipulating emotions is always interesting but what makes it emotion, I

guess, and apart from all reasoning minds, is its spontaneous and impulsive

nature. Though I guess there should be loads of constraints and limits to

define beauty mathematically!

On 2/22/09, Chauncey Wilson <chauncey.wilson at gmail.com> wrote:

>

>There is an interesting article in Sunday edition of The Boston Globe

>newspaper about a mathematical theory of beauty in design - the claim is

>that you can determine what people will find beautiful in design artifacts

>(painting, buildings, furniture, ....) through a mathematical relationship

>of complexity and transformations.

>

>http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2009/02/22/beauty/?page=1

>

>When I was a grad student working in social psychology I wrote a paper

>called "The calculus of dating" with graphs and regression equations. I

>based the paper on social exchange theory and balance theory. I applied

>the

>concept 20 years later and it helped me meet my wife :-)

>

>I'm going to the exhibit next weekend to get the exhibit brochure and will

>report on the math.

>

>Chauncey

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Industrial Design, BA,

University of Tehran.

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http://1to3Design.blogspot.com----- - - - - - - - - - - -

I think at our cognitive core we are pattern recognition beings.

While Brock seems a little bullish on his theories I dont think its a

stretch to say Math can be applied to the manipulation of some basic

constructs such as a the golden ratio or Fibonacci series and result

in automated & reproducable 'good' design.

I'll wait till you get a chance to read the math in question but

I'd be _very_ surprised if he's found some Unified Theory of Good

Design (o; I guess we'll all find out next week if we still have

jobs (o;

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Posted from the new ixda.org

http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39063

I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that since our brains are

99.9% the same, that there is an underlying physics which will predict

why we find something beautiful. Look at the pop song hit-prediction

software - it's been proven to be accurate up to a limit. That limit

is probably a numerical valuation of the differences between humans

due to nature & nurture.

But brains are very complex systems, so it doesn't take much to add

a layer that scrambles the visual input, or have a set of experiences

that add such extreme emotional value to a given stimulus that any

low-level similarity is overcome. Even if they subconsciously

recognize it as "beauty", another part of the brain is telling them

it isn't.

I had a visual theory in film prof at USC, Bruce Block, who claimed

that the eye prefers areas of sharp contrast, because it has learned

to use higher contrast patterns to discern danger. Those who

preferred visual subtlety were eaten by tigers, I guess. But perhaps

we've bred that idea back into commonness...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Posted from the new ixda.org

http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39063

I saw the exhibit. Theory aside, this was one of the worst exhibits I

have seen at the MFA or any art museum. The objects simply were not

interesting. The forms and compositions were banal. There was very

little in the presentation of the exhibit that incorporated the

mathematical theory.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Posted from the new ixda.org

http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39063

Uhm, I'm also curious to learn more about the catalogue content.. I

heard about a similar study regarding beauty in human faces, based on

mathematical formulas...

Waiting to find out more...

cheers..

Posted from the new ixda.org

http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39063

Phi <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio>

I will be going in the next two weeks and report more on the math and

exhibit. I'll report back to the group.

There are a number of mathematical models in the user interface research

area on complexity and aesthetics. I'll try to dig those up.

Chauncey

On Mon, Feb 23, 2009 at 6:17 AM, Maria <mtdemonte at yahoo.it> wrote:

>

Uhm, I'm also curious to learn more about the catalogue content.. I

>heard about a similar study regarding beauty in human faces, based on

>mathematical formulas...

>

>Waiting to find out more...

>

>cheers..

>

>

>. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

>Posted from the new ixda.org

>http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=39063

>

>

>________________________________________________________________

>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!

>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org

>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe

>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines

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>