Mathematical theory of beautiful design - Fun weekend post

22 Feb 2009 - 8:33am
5 years ago
7 replies
696 reads
Chauncey Wilson
2007

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

22 Feb 2009 - 10:10am
majid dadgar
2008

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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22 Feb 2009 - 11:59am
.pauric
2006

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;

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22 Feb 2009 - 2:45pm
Den Serras
2009

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...

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22 Feb 2009 - 9:23pm
Tania Schlatter
2007

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.

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23 Feb 2009 - 6:17am
Maria De Monte
2008

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..

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23 Feb 2009 - 6:47am
Angel Marquez
2008
23 Feb 2009 - 8:29am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

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
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

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