Evaluating computational creativity
: a standardised procedure for evaluating creative systems and its application

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis proposes SPECS: a Standardised Procedure for Evaluating Creative Systems.

No methodology has been accepted as standard for evaluating the creativity of a system in the field of computational creativity and the multi-faceted and subjective nature of creativity generates substantial definitional issues. Evaluative practice has developed a general lack of rigour and systematicity, hindering research progress.

SPECS is a standardised and systematic methodology for evaluating computational creativity. It is flexible enough to be applied to a variety of different types of creative system and adaptable to specific demands in different types of creativity. In the three-stage process of evaluation, researchers are required to be specific about what creativity entails in the domain they work in and what standards they test a system’s creativity by. To assist researchers, definitional issues are investigated and a set of components representing aspects of creativity is presented, which was empirically derived using computational linguistics analysis. These components are recommended for use within SPECS, being offered as a general definition of creativity that can be customised to account for any specific priorities for creativity in a given domain.

SPECS is applied in a case study for detailed comparisons of the creativity of three musical improvisation systems, identifying which systems are more creative than others and why. In a second case study, SPECS is used to capture initial impressions on the creativity of systems presented at a 2011 computational creativity research event. Five systems performing different creative tasks are compared and contrasted.

These case studies exemplify the valuable information that can be obtained on a system’s strengths and weaknesses. SPECS gives researchers vital feedback for improving their systems’ creativity, informing further progress in computational creativity research.
Date of Award1 Jul 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Sussex
SupervisorNick Collins (Supervisor) & Chris Thornton (Supervisor)


  • Computational creativity
  • creativity evaluation
  • research methodology
  • evaluation of research
  • music improvisation
  • improvisation creativity
  • creativity
  • improvisation
  • evaluation

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