Generative Methods

Generative Methods is an umbrella term for a range of computational techniques whereby a computer can automatically create a wide range of objects and experiences, including 2D and 3D shapes and spaces; experiences that unfold over time such as music, short films and games; and novel mechanical systems with AI-driven behavior.

Generative techniques have been used in computer games to automatically create game content (buildings, trees, rocks) as well as entire spaces for gameplay (game levels). Within games and computer graphics, this is known as procedural content generation. Outside of games, these techniques are used by building architects to create innovative shapes and spatial configurations for houses and buildings, and are known as parametric design. Within music, the term generative music encompasses a range of techniques for the algorithmic generation of music by computer. Artists who create procedurally generated short films (music videos), often under extreme constraints for binary size (e.g., 64k), fall under the umbrella term demoscene or demo culture. The term automated design is often used to describe algorithmic generation of electro-mechanical systems, especially robots, and this overlaps with those who have interest in artificial life, the use of generative methods to create synthetic (usually simulated) creatures with evolved behaviors. Generative methods can be viewed as a pragmatic approach to computational creativity, where the emphasis is on creation of useful artifacts, without concern for how these techiques contribute to a deeper understanding of computers performing creative activities. 

This course provides an introduction to generative methods, with emphasis on teaching core algorithmic techniques used across many different types of media. Specific generative techniques covered in the course include Perlin noise, parametric techniques, grammars, genetic algorithms, the combination of grammars and genetic algorithms, and constraint programming (answer set programming).

This course has two sections, one in Santa Cruz at the main UCSC campus, and the other at the UC Silicon Valley Center, for the Games and Playable Media MS students. This is the website for both sections. the class uses a Piazza forum, available here:

Instructors and Assistants