Idea matrix and creativity operators

DS 75-7: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.7: Human Behaviour in Design, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Tang, Victor; Luo, Jianxi
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: i3nsight LLC; 2: Singapore University of Technology and Design
Page(s): 301-316
ISBN: 978-1-904670-50-6
ISSN:  2220-4334


Creativity begins with ideas. Scholars have addressed the conditions, factors, and processes to generate creative ideas. However, a formal technical framework to systematically manipulate ideas for exploration, evaluation and ranking against competing creative ideas remains a challenge. The present paper addresses this gap. We ground our work on scholars’ definition of creativity. Next we formalize the notion of an idea as a construct of attributes and features using our matrix representation. We then propose a set of idea operators, which use matrix-expressed ideas as operands, to generate new ideas. We follow with structured matrix-algebraic methods used to assess, rank and measurably improve the new ideas in terms of creativity. To illustrate the application and utility of our methods, we assess, compare and improve two real-world competing product ideas. This approach, of using idea matrices and creativity operators to systematically generate and evaluate new ideas, presents a repeatable method to operationalize creativity.

Keywords: Creativity, innovation, early design phases


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