Quantifying Design Aesthetics – My TEDxUND talk

A few years ago I started watching TED talks over the internet, mostly during lunch time.  The talks’ topics that I watched were mostly design, engineering, and art related.  When I learned that The University of Notre Dame was going to hold a TEDx event I applied to be a speaker, to share my research with the TEDx community.  After the selection process, I was one of the 19 speakers chosen!

The email read:

“We were very impressed with your ideas and your passion, and as such, we are officially inviting you to perform at TEDxUND 2014, to be held on January 21st, 2014, at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center…”

Then the preparation process started.  I had to explain my research in 12 minutes!  I’m just going to comment that once I understood that the purpose of the TEDx talks is to share ideas, it enabled me to focus only on the essential information needed. The organizers were very supportive giving speakers the tools needed to present on stage, which help me gain the confidence to stand in front of the TEDx audience.  The talk was streamed real-time and last week a recording of the presentation was posted on the TEDx Talks YouTube channel.  Here is my presentation:


After the talk, I had a good time talking to people and answering questions.  The most common question was: Where was the “beauty” number of each wheel rim? For each of the wheel rims I only presented three quantified Gestalt principles but there were more. Nevertheless, they weren’t shown for simplicity; remember the goal was to share an idea, not to present years of research in 12 minutes.  To summarize the “beauty” number is a unit vector and its dimensions are equal to the number of quantified Gestalt principles.  With that said, if you really want a scalar number, then is just a matter of taking the Euclidean norm of the vector.

The second comment was regarding the complexity of the wheel rims and now looking at the video it seems like I passed these slides quickly so here you can see the two examples of wheel rims with similar complexity that were not shown in the youtube video (at 8:26).

Wheel rims with similar complexity

Wheel rims with similar complexity.

People didn’t ask me about the equations to quantify the Gestalt principles. I don’t know if it was because they were shown briefly; this was on purpose as time was limited.  I think that here it is appropriate to share that slide.

Summary Slide of Gestalt Principles Equations

This is just a summary and more information regarding the equations can be found at my webpage.

Lastly, I want to thank all the people from the University of Notre Dame that helped me prepare for the talk.  Also, I want to thank everyone from academia, industry and friends that have guided me through this research journey questioning, challenging and inspiring myself to do good research.

When we solve problems together, we don’t only solve them, we also create new knowledge together…