Jürgen Schmidhuber's


Above: Low-complexity butterfly from reference [4].
Right: explanation of the butterfly's algorithmic simplicity. More.

Schmidhuber's Beauty Postulate (1994-2006): Among several patterns classified as "comparable" by some subjective observer, the subjectively most beautiful is the one with the simplest (shortest) description, given the observer's particular method for encoding and memorizing it. See refs [1-5].

For example, mathematicians find beauty in a simple proof with a short description in the formal language they are using.

On TV: Schmidhuber's theory of beauty / interestingness / curiosity was subject of a TV documentary (BR "Faszination Wissen", 29 May 2008, 21:15, plus several later repeats on other channels).

See also an interview in HPlus Magazine which got slashdotted.

Related links:

1. Formal theory of creativity (1990-2010) explains science, art, music, humor
2. Femme Fractale (another example of low-complexity art)
3. Kolmogorov complexity
4. Complexity based on computational speed
5. Active exploration and curiosity and what's interesting
6. Fibonacci web design
7. TUM CS design
8. Neural computer vision
9.Full publication list (with additional HTML and pdf links)

Recent invited talks on Beauty, Surprise, Novelty, Curiosity, Creativity & Low-Complexity Art:

22 Sept 2010: Banquet Talk in Palau de la Música Catalana for Joint Conferences ECML / PKDD 2010, Barcelona: Formal Theory of Fun & Creativity. See video of Dec 14, 2010.
12 Nov 2009: Keynote for Multiple Ways to Design 09: Art & Science
3 Oct 2009: Invited talk for Singularity Summit, NYC. Videos: 40min, 20min, 10min
12 Jul 2009: Dagstuhl Castle Seminar on Computational Creativity
3 Sep 2008: Keynote for Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information & Engineering Systems KES 2008, Zagreb
2 Oct 2007: Joint invited lecture for Algorithmic Learning Theory (ALT 2007) and Discovery Science (DS 2007), Sendai, Japan (the only joint invited lecture). Preprint
23 Aug 2007: Keynote for A*STAR Meeting on Expectation & Surprise, Singapore
12 July 2007: Keynote for Art Meets Science 2007: "Randomness vs simplicity & beauty in physics and the fine arts"

In 1997, Schmidhuber published the concept of Low- Complexity Art, the computer age equivalent of minimal art: art with low Kolmogorov complexity - art that can be generated by a short program (ref [4]).

of loco


Selected papers on the nature of beauty, interestingness, & low-complexity art:

[9] J. Schmidhuber. Art & science as by-products of the search for novel patterns, or data compressible in unknown yet learnable ways. In M. Botta (ed.), Multiple ways to design research. Research cases that reshape the design discipline, Milano-Lugano, Swiss Design Network - Et al. Edizioni, 2009, pp. 98-112. (Keynote talk.) PDF of preprint.

[8] J. Schmidhuber. Driven by Compression Progress: A Simple Principle Explains Essential Aspects of Subjective Beauty, Novelty, Surprise, Interestingness, Attention, Curiosity, Creativity, Art, Science, Music, Jokes. Based on KES 2008 keynote and ALT 2007 / DS 2007 joint invited lecture (below). Short version: Journal of SICE, 48(1):21-32, 2009. PDF. Long version in G. Pezzulo, M. V. Butz, O. Sigaud, G. Baldassarre, eds.: Anticipatory Behavior in Adaptive Learning Systems, from Sensorimotor to Higher-level Cognitive Capabilities, Springer, LNAI, 2009, in press. Preprint (2008, revised 2009): arXiv:0812.4360. PDF (Dec 2008). PDF (April 2009).

[7] J. Schmidhuber. Simple Algorithmic Principles of Discovery, Subjective Beauty, Selective Attention, Curiosity & Creativity. In V. Corruble, M. Takeda, E. Suzuki, eds., Proc. 10th Intl. Conf. on Discovery Science (DS 2007) p. 26-38, LNAI 4755, Springer, 2007. Also in M. Hutter, R. A. Servedio, E. Takimoto, eds., Proc. 18th Intl. Conf. on Algorithmic Learning Theory (ALT 2007) p. 32, LNAI 4754, Springer, 2007. (Joint invited lecture for DS 2007 and ALT 2007, Sendai, Japan, 2007.) Preprint: arxiv:0709.0674. PDF. Curiosity as the drive to improve the compression of the lifelong sensory input stream: interestingness as the first derivative of subjective "beauty" or compressibility.

[6] J. Schmidhuber. Developmental Robotics, Optimal Artificial Curiosity, Creativity, Music, and the Fine Arts. Connection Science, 18(2): 173-187, June 2006. PDF. This paper emphasizes that beauty and interestingness are different things: the former reflects low complexity with respect to the observer, the latter the learning process leading from high to low subjective complexity.

[5] J. Schmidhuber. Facial beauty and fractal geometry. Note IDSIA-28-98, IDSIA, June 1998, published in the Cogprint Archive (ca. 450K, including 5 color figures).

[4] J. Schmidhuber. Low-Complexity Art. Leonardo, Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences, and Technology, 30(2):97-103, MIT Press, 1997. Print on high-resolution (600 dpi) printer, preferrably double paged on A4 paper (172 K, uncompresses to 1.1 M). HTML version.

[3] J. Schmidhuber. Femmes Fractales. Report IDSIA-99-97, IDSIA, December 1997.

[2] J.  Schmidhuber. Algorithmisch einfache Kunst. Manuscript, 1994.

[1] J.  Schmidhuber. Low-Complexity Art. Report FKI-197-94, Fakultät für Informatik, Technische Universität München, 1994.

principles of a low-complexity face
Left: One more app of this theory of beauty: loco face from refs [5,7,8].

Graphical designs based on the popular Golden Ratio and the closely related Fibonacci numbers (such as the design of this web site) are just special cases of low-complexity designs.

It is important, however, to note that what's beautiful is not necessarily interesting! Even a beautiful song will get boring after the 1000th time. See, e. g., refs [6-9] for a theory of curiosity & creativity and what's interesting.

At the Singularity Summit 2009 in NYC, Schmidhuber gave an overview of his theory. Below two videos of the talk - 10min excerpts at YouTube, and 40min original at Vimeo:

Artificial Curiosity
Computer Vision with Fast Deep Neural Nets Etc Yield Best Results on Many Visual Pattern Recognition Benchmarks
Fibonacci web design
Randomness and Kolmogorov complexity
Femme Fractale as an example of low-complexity art, illustrating the formal theory of creativity (Juergen Schmidhuber)
The formal theory of creativity by Juergen Schmidhuber explains the desire to learn motor skills, to do science, to produce art
Speed Prior