Rob Saunders
Lecturer in Design Computing

Current Teaching

The units of study that I teach are influenced by my background and my research: my background is in computer science and artificial intelligence; my research is in computational modelling creativity and curiosity.

Design Programming (DECO1012)

The aim of this unit of study is to introduce students to computer programming, both as a tool for design computing and as a medium of expression in digital media. This unit of study will focus on the practical application of computer programming as a way to expand the students' abilities to use computers in creative design and research tasks.

Web page: DECO1012: Tutorial 1

Current Research

My primary research interest is the development of computational models of creativity. The development of computational models of creative processes provides opportunities for developing a better understanding human creativity, producing tools that support human creativity and possibly creating autonomous systems capable of creative activity. My approach to developing computational models of creativity is to develop curious agents and to use these curious agents to simulate creative systems.

Curious Agents

Curious agents are computational models of self-motivated learning based on an interest in novelty. Curiosity is a fundamental driving force behind much creative activity, although it may only provide a weak motivation in any particular project it is one of the few constants in all creative endeavours. Computationally modelling curiosity provides a platform for developing a wide range of creative systems.

Curious Design Agents

Curious design agents are autonomous agents that are capable of exploring complex design spaces in search of interesting designs. Curious design agents have been developed for a range of design domains including simple geometric sketching, spirograph designs, doorways for crowds, and evolved artworks.

Curious Design Assistants

Curious design assistants are interface agents that have been developed to support creativity by filtering and exploring design spaces. Curious design assistants have been developed to assist with the interactive evolution of two-dimensional forms. Potential applications of curious design assistants include mass customisation.

Curious Places

Curious places are intelligent environments that are interested in the activities that happen within them and may in turn be interesting to its inhabitants. Curious places have been developed in physical and virtual environments and have included information displays, virtual learning spaces and distributed sensor networks.

Publications »

Creative Systems

Creative systems are computational models of individual and social creativity. Computational models of individual creativity involve an agent and some environment that the agent can change; design is fundamentally about how an agent changes their environment. Computational models of social creativity provide useful frameworks for investigating the nature of creativity without the additional complexities inherent in human societies.

The Digital Clockwork Muse

The Digital Clockwork Muse is a project that attempts to use curious agents to model emergent social dynamics of creative societies as a multi-agent system. It is based on the Domain Individual Field Interaction (DIFI) model proposed by Csikszentmihalyi et al.

Creative Cultures

The creative cultures project extends the computational modelling of social dynamics in creative societies by including a model of the evolution of language. The aim of this project is to model important aspects of cultural production and transmission.

Publications »

Research Supervision

I am supervisor and associate supervisor for a number of research students, from Undergraduate Honours to PhD Candidates. My research students are conducting their research in a wide variety of domains.

Current Supervision

Eduardo Barata (PhD Candidate) is developing a pattern language for applying generative design in architectural practice.

Anhong Zhang (PhD Candidate) is exploring the evolution of languages for design in artificial creative systems.

Andrew Zhu (PhD Candidate) is investigating the benefits of mixed reality interfaces for the control of mobile robots in emergency situations.

Steven Janssen (MPhil Candidate) is developing a conceptual framework for understanding the potential for robotic construction in architecture.

Adam Younis (Undergraduate Honours Student) is redesigning aspects of the online learning environment, Peep.

Previous Supervision

A. Baki Kocacelli (PhD) developed a framework for developing seamful interactions between wearable computing devices and intelligent environments.

Morteza Pourmohammadi (PhD) explored the nature of designerly ways of customising, i.e., the nature of design in mass customisation systems.

Kazjon Grace (PhD) is developing a computational model of situated analogy making based on the transformation of conceptual spaces.

Nick Kelly (PhD) developed a computational model of situated interpretation and concept formation in design.

Kathryn Merrick (PhD) developed a computational model of motivated reinforcement learning for applications in artificial characters.

Xiong Wang (PhD) studied the affective content of language in collaborative design communication.

Vishal Singh (PhD) developed a computational model of design teams.

David Bartolo (Graduate Honours) explored the use of augmented reality for engaging stakeholders in urban planning.

Adrian Lombard (Graduate Honours) explored the acoustic properties that make sounds interesting to facilitate the development of curious agents.

Dan Bourke (Graduate Honours) was developing computational models of the emergence of fashion cycles in creative societies.

Emma Chee (Undergraduate Honours) developed a crowd of musical robots to investigate the benefits of embodiment for the development of creative agents.

James Hiscock (Undergraduate Honours) developed an on-line development environment for Processing that can be embedded in tutorials, forums and portfolios.

Leon Spencer (Undergraduate Honours) developed a multi-agent simulation for generative story-telling in massively-multiplayer on-line games.

Hanley Wang (Undergraduate Independent Study) developed prototype for location-based casual gaming as an iPhone game that could be modified on the device and geographically located.

Anneise Josey (Undergraduate Independent Study) developed a generative design system for avatars based on answers to personality type questions.