Computational Models of Surprise as a Mechanism for Evaluating Creative Design

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Mary Lou Maher, Douglas Fisher and Kate Brady: Computational Models of Surprise as a Mechanism for Evaluating Creative Design. In: Computational Creativity 2013 ICCC 2013, 147-151.



In this paper we consider how to evaluate whether a de- sign or other artifact is creative. Creativity and its eval- uation have been studied as a social process, a creative arts practice, and as a design process with guidelines for people to judge creativity. However, there are few ap- proaches that seek to evaluate creativity computational- ly. In prior work we presented novelty, value, and sur- prise as a set of necessary conditions when identifying creative designs. In this paper we focus on the least studied of these – surprise. Surprise occurs when expec- tations are violated, suggesting that there is a temporal component when evaluating how surprising an artifact is. This paper presents an approach to quantifying sur- prise by projecting into the future. We illustrate this ap- proach on a database of automobile designs, and we point out several directions for future research in as- sessing surprising and creativity generally.

Extended Abstract


author = {Mary Lou Maher, Douglas Fisher and Kate Brady},
title = {Computational Models of Surprise as a Mechanism for Evaluating Creative Design},
editor = {Simon Colton, Dan Ventura, Nada Lavrac, Michael Cook},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Computational Creativity},
series = {ICCC2013},
year = {2013},
month = {Jun},
location = {Sydney, New South Wales, Australia},
pages = {147-151},
url = {, },
publisher = {International Association for Computational Creativity},
keywords = {computational, creativity},

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