Recent advancements in computer science, namely in data-driven modeling techniques, have opened up a new level of design culture. In this conference we would like to consider and discuss how to theorize and apply highly abstract computational modeling procedures in architectural design.

As architects, computer scientists and philosophers we think that the state of the art procedures, as they are implemented today in CAAD tools such as scripting libraries and parametric design environments, are undoubtedly of enormous power. Yet we think that they have potentials and limits which need to be discussed independent of purely pragmatic questions like those related to computation power, the availability of programming skills among architects and engineers, or a sudden plenty of available data to work with. How to deal with computational procedures touches upon many of the issues at stake in the old disputes around architecture as art vs. architecture as science, but we don’t find this question adequately addressed by either one camp. So we would like to consider the implications involved with an open mind by relating this question to the philosophical approaches to computability and calculate-ability more abstractly, and with that, to the relation between mathematics and concepts. More precisely, we would like to ask how the genuinely synthetic character of the computational procedures may be theorized not in terms of a formalist and representational paradigm on the one hand, nor in a strictly case-based analytical paradigm on the other, but in terms of what we might preliminarily call ‘computation literacy’.

With this aim, we would like to raise one particular procedure into the exemplary status as  a point of reference for our discussions: Self Organizing Maps (SOM), a procedure which has been introduced 30 years ago by Teuvo Kohonon. It is a generic and promising procedure, which, as we think, is somewhat restrictively and inadequately viewed as a kind of neural network. Based on our theoretical approach, and on some practical experiments, our hypothesis is that it has particular capacities in relation to data-driven modeling that seem yet to be largely unexplored. If we try to understand SOM‘s abstractness similar to how we understand that of Markov Chains, SOM promises to be of comparable importance as the latter (in terms of general applicability). Our core interest is to discuss how we could grasp this level of abstractness, and with what benefits and what costs this would be related.

Following this practical and theoretical interests we would like to discuss on three levels:

  1. Section one: Self Organizing Map (SOM) as a generic computational modeling tool .
  2. Section two: Discussions on the theoretical and philosophical status of abstract/ universal algebra in general, and on the approach of viewing the operational level of computation as literacy in particular.
  3. Section three: Possible applications in CAAD and urban design using SOM or similar tools for data-driven computational modeling methods.

 

Program May 22nd – 24th,  2014

Thursday 22nd of May 2014

13:00-13:30  Welcome
Dr. phil. Vera Bühlmann and PhD Candidate Vahid Moosavi

13:30-14:30  INTRODUCTION – CODING AND ARCHITECTURE
Prof. Dr. Ludger Hovestadt
Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design, CAAD, ITA, ETH Zurich, www.caad.arch.ethz.ch

14:30-15:30  Discussion

15:30-16:00  Coffee

16:00-17:00   WARM UP ONE PROFILING KEY CONCEPTS IN CATEGORY THEORY
Prof. Michael Epperson and Dr. Elias Zafiris
Center for Philosophy and the natural Science, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, California State University, Sacramento, USA, http://www.csus.edu/cpns/epperson/ and Department of Mathematics at the University of Athens http://users.uoa.gr/~ezafiris/

17:00-17.30  Discussion

17:30-18:30  WARM UP TWOPROFILING KEY CONCEPTS IN CONTINUOUS GEOMETRY
Prof. Sha Xin Wei
Director School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University, Founding Director Topological Media Lab, Concordia University, Montreal. http://ame.asu.edu/directory/selectone.php?ID=97

18:30-19:00  Discussion

20:00  Dinner

 

Friday 23rd of May 2014 

Section 1: SOM Technology

09:00-10:00  SELF-ORGANIZING MAP AS A MEANS FOR GAINING PERSPECTIVES
Prof. Dr. Timo Honkela
Department of Information and Computer Science, Alto University, http://users.ics.aalto.fi/tho/

10:00-11:00  Discussion

11:00-11:30  Coffee

11:30-12:30   SELF-ORGANIZING MAPS AND LEARNING VECTOR QUANTIZATION FOR NON-STANDARD DATA
Prof. Barbara Hammer
CITEC centre of excellence, Bielefeld University, D-33594 Bielefeld, Germany, http://www.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de/~bhammer/

12:30-13:30  Discussion

13:30-14:30  Lunch

 

Section 2: Philosophy of Modeling and Computing

14:30-15:30  THE PRACTICAL PROBLEM OF CALIBRATING TOPOLOGICAL DYNAMICS AGAINST SOCIO-CULTURAL & HISTORICAL PROCESSES
Prof. Dr. Sha Xin Wei
Director School of Arts, Media and Engineering, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University, Founding Director Topological Media Lab, Concordia University, Montreal
http://ame.asu.edu/directory/selectone.php?ID=97

15:30-16:30 Discussion

16:30-17:00  Coffee

17:00-18:00  SHEAVES OF BOOLEAN LOGICAL FRAMES: A LOCAL-TO-GLOBAL APPROACH TO QUANTUM GEOMETRY AND LOGIC
Dr. Elias Zafiris
Department of Mathematics at the University of Athens
http://users.uoa.gr/~ezafiris/

18:00-19:00  Discussion

20:00  Diner

 

Saturday 24th of May 2014 

Section 3: Possible Applications of SOM and Similar Methods in CAAD

9:00-10:00  TRANSFIGURING PHYSICAL AND ABSTRACT SPACES: A HIGH-DIMENSIONAL APPROACH
Dr. André Skupin
Department of Geography San Diego State University,
http://geography.sdsu.edu/People/Pages/skupin/

10:00-11:00  Discussion

11:00-11:30  Coffee

11:30-12:30  DATA DRIVEN MODELING BEYOND IDEALIZATION
Vahid Moosavi
PhD Candidate at the Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design, CAAD, ITA, ETH Zurich, www.caad.arch.ethz.ch, Researcher at Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre, www.futurecities.ethz.ch

12:30-13:30  Discussion

13:30-14:30  Lunch

 

Section 2: Philosophy of Modeling and Computing (continued)

14:30-15:30  THE ONTOLOGY AND EPISTEMOLOGY OF INTERNAL RELATIONS: BRIDGING THE PHYSICAL AND CONCEPTUAL IN QUANTUM MECHANICS AND QUANTUM INFORMATION
Prof. Dr. Michael Epperson
Center for Philosophy and the natural Science, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, California State University, Sacramento, USA, http://www.csus.edu/cpns/epperson/

15:30-16:30 Discussion

16:30-17:00  Coffee

17:00-18:00  THE BODY OF THAT CIPHER WHICH RENDERS PRESENT »THE WORLD«, OR A CIRCLE THAT CONTINUES TO COMPREHEND ITSELF. LOUIS HIJELMSLEV’S IDEA OF »AN ALGEBRA IMMANENT TO LANGUAGE« – SUITABLE FOR CHARACTERIZING DISCRETIZED PROBABILITY DENSITY AS A KIND OF ALPHABETICITY?

Dr. phil. Vera Bühlmann
laboratory for applied virtuality, Chair for Computer Aided Architectural Design, CAAD, ITA, ETH Zurich,
http://appliedvirtualitylab.wordpress.com

18:00-19:00 Discussion

apero rich and farewell