Creative Automata Lab Makes Abstract Computing Concrete

The Creative Automata Lab lab explores how abstract foundational computing artifacts are represented.

“The purpose of the lab is to make abstract computing concepts concrete,” says lab director Paul Fishwick. Fishwick is Distinguished Endowed Chair of Arts and Technology and Professor of Computer Science.

During this year’s Engineering Week lab researchers demonstrated to visitors of all ages several projects:

  • a representation of the Lotka-Volterra predator-prey relationship,
  • a mechanical integrator using simulated sand,
  • and the use of force feedback in embodied interactions with the distributive law of algebra.

Sharon Hewitt, MFA student in arts and technology and research assistant in the Creative Automata Lab, create a video demonstrating current lab projects.

About the Creative Automata Lab

Master student Michael Howell's artistic representation of a computational model

Michael Howell’s artistic representation of a computational model using water and valves

The Creative Automata Lab explores how abstract foundation computing artifacts are represented. Representations include functions, equations, dynamic models, and formal automata as well as the control and data involved in them.

Researchers and artists work together to merge the scientific with the aesthetic to focus on human interaction with metaphor and analogy. Research includes historic mechanics for mathematical functions, such as mechanical and electronic devices.

Researchers seek to investigate the next generation of technology using games, cinema, 3D printing, consumer electronics, virtual and augmented reality, and Web-based interaction. They also seek to determine how humanities will be a part of the process.

About Paul Fishwick

Paul Fishwick joined UT Dallas in January 2013. He is Distinguished Endowed Chair of Arts and Technology and Professor of Computer Science. He has six years of industry experience as a systems analyst working at Newport News Shipbuilding and at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia.

He was on the faculty at the University of Florida since 1986, and was Director of the Digital Arts and Sciences Programs there. His PhD was in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Fishwick is active in modeling and simulation, as well as in the bridge areas spanning art, science, and engineering. He pioneered the area of aesthetic computing, resulting in an MIT Press edited volume in 2006.

He is a Fellow of the Society for Computer Simulation, served as General Chair of the 2000 Winter Simulation Conference (WSC), was a WSC Titan Speaker in 2009, and has delivered over fifteen keynote addresses at international conferences. He is Chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group in Simulation (SIGSIM). Fishwick has over 200 technical papers and has served on all major archival journal editorial boards related to simulation, including ACM Transactions on Modeling and Simulation (TOMACS) where he was a founding area editor of modeling methodology in 1990.

He actively pursues new connections between ATEC and STEM areas such as mathematics and engineering, especially computer science. His research area is in modeling and simulation. He is Director of the Creative Automata Laboratory which has a goal of exploring new representational approaches to automata as well as mathematical and computational models.