Design Cafe Event
of the Stan Ackermans Institute
“What means NEW in
research, design and art ?”
Kees van Hee
prof of computer science, director of SAI
• Why a Design Cafe?
• New developments in SAI
• What means NEW in research, design and art ?
Why a Design Cafe?
• To meet other PDEng trainees and staff
• To discuss the future plans for SAI
• Lectures, for example about:
• The Science of Design
• The best PDEng projects
• Experiences of practitioners
• Vision of captains of industry
Formula for the Design Cafe
• 4 events per year:
• September, December, March, June
• 20 minutes: organizational issues
• 50 minutes: lecture
• Program committee:
• Prof Leegwater, dr Janse, two PDEng students??
• Location: Black Box
• Next year also invitations to Delft
New developments in SAI
• To determine the strategy of SAI a survey study has
been done (summary follows)
• There are several initiatives for new programs (also
• There is a discussion going on about graduate
schools and the role of PDEng in this school.
Quality of programs Recognition of PDEng degree
Quality of PDEng trainees Visibility of programs in the
market (industry and
Offering of programs Recognition of PDEng
programs in the university
Supply of assignments from
Cost / benefit ratio (for TU/e)
Price / performance ratio (for
•Unique position (in world) •Little synergy between
•Succesful programs programs and departments
•Good demand from market •Almost invisible:
• Ideal form of valorization •in the market
•SAI progams create Brain Gain •in the departments
•Financial healthy programs •in The Hague and Bruxels
•Confusing degree (PDEng)
•3TU makes it possible to scale •Insufficent support in TU/e
up •No PDEng premium of the
•Roll out of successful programs Ministery of Education and
to other universities Sciences
•Demand for new programs •Sub-critical programs (< 10
trainees per year)
Plans for the future
• More marketing internal and external
• More involvement of the scientific staff
• New programs
• Common social events, more common courses
• More publications on designs and more patents
• Better integration of PDEng assignments in larger
research projects with industry
• Embedding of PDEng in the graduate school
• Feasibilty study for part-time program for designers
with 5 years experience
• Distance learning for incoming trainees
What means NEW in
research, design and art?
Design is about a:
•Physical product, like a building or a coffee machine
•A production process, like a chemical process or a
business process in a bank
•A service, which is in fact a process
•A system, like a software system or an organization
Research, design and art
Research Design Art
Questions Why? What-if? Why not?
Starts Empirical Data Requirements Inspiration
Leads to Theory Artifact Artifact
Searches Truth One of the possibilities Emotion, surprise,
Thinks Invariants Choices Uniqueness
Steps Logic Truth Inspiration Relevance Trial and error
Aim Knowledge Useful product Non-functional product
What is new (pussycat) ?
• Scientists discover something new
(so it was already there)
• Engineers invent something new
• Artists create something new
Is there a difference?
If yes, what is it?
Discovery or inventions?
• Discovery means finding something that was already
as far as we know it was unkown
• Are these discoveries?
• The finding of the Neandertahler
• The double helix in DNA (Crick and Watson)
• Are these discoveries or inventions?
• The formula F=m.a or E=m.c2 (Newton, Einstein)
Nature has created, what we discover!
• This is true for the big sciences like:
physics, chemistry, biology, geology
• Social sciences discover what we think, what we
feel and how we behave.
• Nature is the big “creator”. We also discover the
creation process of nature (big bang, evolution
• But nature did not create a wheel!
• Humans did long ago and every people reinvent the
Escher helped nature!
What is new in discovery? (1)
• Empirical studies often have a low level of creativity.
• For example a geologist, looking for the structure of
earth layers in an unkown area applies standard
techniques. Only the result is new because it was
• Compare this with a mathematician who tabulates a
function that was not tabulated before. The result is
new but we do not reward this with a publication or
PhD, unless he had to develop a new method !
• In empirical physics and chemistry often a new
device or a new measurement method have to be
deisgned: this is in fact an invention!
What is new in discovery? (2)
• In the social sciences the word “research” is used
for the following process:
1. Formulate an hypothesis
2. Design a questionary (standard methods)
3. Take a sample from the population
4. Test the hypothesis on the sample data by
standard statistical methods
• So what is new? Only the hypothesis that might
become a thesis! Social scientists believe that they
can learn the truth by asking people what they
think or feel the truth is!
What is new in discovery? (3)
• In mathematics and computer science new
concepts and new methods are designed and
analyzed. Concepts and methods without proven
properties do not count.
• In theoretical particle physics there a two types of
discoveries based on data sets of millions of
• Discover a new particle by finding enough
experiments where one of the known balance
equations does not hold (for instance in mass,
energy or charge)
• Discover a new balance equation: some
reactions never occured although they are not
forbidden by the existing balance equations: so
there must be another one!
What is new in inventions? (1)
• Inventions are sometimes predictable:
Moore’s law: “every 18 month we invent new
methods to double the number of elements on a
chip” holds already 30 years.
• Chemical engineers never create new atoms, they
only arrange them in an new way to obtain new
• So new is often: a new arrangement of existing
What is new in inventions? (2)
• This is the same with authors: they use the words
from the dictionary but arrange them in a new
way. So a new book is only a new arrangement of
• A new software program is just a new arrangement
• Even nature works like this: a new specimen is
defined by a new arrangement of the DNA
components: amino acids C, A, G and T
4 inventions of the 20th century
• Solution of the 4-color problem:
Is it possible to color a map with only four
colours such that two adjacent countries have
• Proof for Fermats conjecture:
Xn+Yn=Zn has no natural solution for n>2
Who knows these inventors?
Is art really a creation? (1)
Piet Grijs (pseudonym for Hugo Brandt Corstius)
has proven that all paintings can be created by
• Call two paintings the same if they have the same
pixels on a (large) screen
• 1024 x 768 pixels with 256 colors
• So there are “only” (256)786432 different paintings
• So we can generate them by a computer
Conclusion: painting is not a creative activity???
Is art really a creation? (2)
• So the creativity it is not the generation of
paintings, but the selection.
• Therefore directors of museums and art galleries
are so powerful: they determine what is good and
what is bad.
• The art painter who is sitting behind the screen
could also be creative by interrupting the
generation of bad paintings or by contolling the
generation process by defining constraints !
Can computers be creative? (1)
• First answer: No, since everything that a computer can
do is programmed by a human.
• Second answer: Yes, since the programmer has only
given the computer the rules of the game and the
computer can find things the programmer had no idea
• Proof: the Fresnel lens is rediscovered by a computer
that was programmed to generate lenses satisfying
Can computers be creative? (2)
• If we learn a computer the rules of the chess game,
and it has enough time an memory space, it could in
principle find the solution of a chess puzzle.
• In fact creativity can be seen as efficient searching
through a large space.
• In artificial intelligence this idea is transformed into a
methodology: the Test and Generate
• One of the methods of this class is general applicable:
Can computers be creative? (3)
Principles of genetic algorithms:
• Preparation phase:
1. Represent the objects by a string (e.g. like DNA
with symbols C, A, G and T)
2. Define operations on one string to change it
(mutation) and on two strings (cross-over)
3. Define a fitness function (to measure the quality)
1. Start with an initial population of N objects
2. Generate mutations and cross-overs say K
3. Select the N best out of the N+K
4. Stop if no improvements are found.
Mondriaan and the Turing test…
28% right identification
59% preferred computer generated picture
How to value art works? (1)
We value art works by anwering the questions:
1. Do we like it? Is it beautiful?
2. Is it a really unique composition?
3. Is it made by a(n already) famous painter?
The first is subjective, the last is easy to verify.
The hard part is the uniqueness!
How to value art works? (2)
There are many more interesting paintings of the type
of Rembrandt van Rijn then of type of Carel Appel:
Because if you replace the persons in Rembrandts
the painting it is again interesting and if you move the
objects in Appel’s painting it is just like a copy.
How to value art works? (3)
• Really unique the work of
Barnett Newman: it is hard
to make an interesting
variation of it!
• The ultimate painting is the
complete white one, it is
like the empty set, it is
• The more unique, the more
expensive. So which one
should be more expensive
• the Nigth Watch, or
• Who is afraid of Red,
Yellow and Blue?
Innovation is more than invention(1)
• The idea should be developed, tested, produced,
• This has a big failure probability
• And often a long incubation time
• Roling foot paths and roling stairways were invented
• Jules Verne knew already that we could go to the
• The digital video-disc was already developed in 1974
Innovation is more than invention(2)
• The CARIN navigation system (TomTom) was in 1985
• BlueTooth was working by TNO-FEL 1995, but after
2003 it became a product.
• From all new food products in super markets 80% is
withdrawn after 3 month!
So there is a long way to go from a nice
idea to a successful innovation