11 Applications

Consented to Scheherazade’s petition and Dinarzade was sent for,
straight frame,
and to cure diseases,
to some others he spoiled the frame of their kidneys.

Qui peut l’espérer ?...,
puffed out with the lining of as much blue damask as was needful,
the beneficent lance of the painting machine at the center,
made the genius the same request as the other two had done.

Which is the curative or therapeutic,
here I made one more frantic effort to excite the pity,
what was the use of being beautiful if.

Ils supputaient l’usage qu’ils feraient de leur fortune future,
it makes us exhale in sweat,
quel travail que celui.

This chapter introduces two real world applications of this research and details some of the publications, talks and exhibitions that featured this project.

11.1 Patadata Ontology

Andrew Dennis wrote an undergraduate thesis entitled Investigation of a patadata-based ontology for text based search and replacement (2016a), which was directly based on some of the work presented in this thesis and previously published work (Raczinski, Yang, and Hugill 2013; Hugill et al. 2013). His project can be described as such:

  1. a patadata ontology is generated using 5 pataphysical algorithms (Synonym, Antonym, Syzygy, Clinamen and Anomaly).

  2. a piece of software lets users “search and replace” words in a given text for each of the 5 pataphysical algorithms based on the above ontology.

The 5 algorithms he discusses could be seen as an extension of my own work (which only described 3 algorithms - Clinamen, Syzygy and Antinomy).


Pataphysical equivalence—implemented using WordNet’s synsets.


Pataphysical coexistence of mutually incompatible concepts—implemented using WordNet’s antonyms.


Pataphysical alignment of three entities—implemented using WordNet’s synonyms and hypernyms.


Pataphysical swerve—implemented using Damerau-Levenshtein algorithm.


Pataphysical exceptions—implemented using randomisation.

Dennis differentiates between nouns and verbs in his algorithms which allows his “search and replace” tool to produce much more grammatically accurate results—pata.physics.wtf does not distinguish between word forms like this.

11.1.1 Algorithms

The synonym algorithm works by generating WordNet synonyms for a given keyword. Source 11.1 shows the pseudo-code for this algorithm.

function generate_synonym(input):
  synonym_list = []
  for word in synonym_set(input):
    if word is noun or word is verb:
      return word
  return input
Code 11.1 – Andrew Dennis’ synonym generation algorithm

The antonym algorithm in source 11.2 generates WordNet synonyms and then retrieves antonyms for each of those synonyms. This is very similar to the antinomy algorithm presented in section 10.2.4 with the additional handling of nouns and verbs as separate entities.

function generate_antonym(input):
  antonym_list = []
  for word in synonym_set(input):
    if input is noun:
      if word is noun:
        for lemma in word.lemmas:
          if lemma.antonyms.length > 0:
            return lemma.antonym[0]
      else if word is verb:
        for lemma in word.lemmas:
          if lemma.antonyms.length > 0:
            for new_word in synonym_set(lemma.antonyms[0]):
              if new_word is noun:
                return new_word
    else if input is verb:
      if word is verb:
        for lemma in word.lemmas:
          if lemma.antonyms.length > 0:
            return lemma.antonym[0]
  return Null
Code 11.2 – Andrew Dennis’ antonym generation algorithm

The algorithm for the anomaly works by generating a random number $x$ and retrieving item number $x$ in the dictionary. Source 11.3 shows the pseudo-code for this algorithm.

function generate_anomaly(input):
  not_found = True
  while not_found:
    index = random(0, dictionary.length-1)
    if dictionary[index] != input
      not_found = false
      return dictionary[index]
Code 11.3 – Andrew Dennis’ anomaly generation algorithm

The syzygy algorithm works by generating WordNet synonyms and retrieving hypernyms for each of those and then retrieving any synonyms for those hypernyms (i.e. it creates a syzygy alignment from synonym $→$ hypernym $→$ synonym). Source 11.4 shows the pseudo-code for this algorithm. This is slightly different to the syzygy algorithm presented in section 10.2.3 in that it aligns keyword—synonyms—hypernyms—synonyms rather than keyword—synonyms—hyper/hypo/holo/meronyms.

function generate_syzygy(input):
  syzygy_list = []
  for word in synonym_set(input):
    if word is noun or word is verb:
      if word.hypernyms.length > 0:
        if synonym_set(word.hypernyms[0]).length > 0:
          return synsets_set(word.hypernyms[0])[0].name
Code 11.4 – Andrew Dennis’ syzygy generation algorithm

Finally, the clinamen algorithm works by finding words in the dictionary that have a Damerau-Levenshtein distance of 2 to the keyword. Source 11.5 shows the pseudo-code for this algorithm. This is based almost directly on the clinamen algorithm presented in section 10.2.1 with the only difference being that Dennis forces a distance of 2, where pata.physics.wtf uses a distance of 1 or 2.

function generate_clinamen(input):
  for word in dictionary:
    match = damerau_levenshtein_distance(input, word)
    if match == 2:
      return word
Code 11.5 – Andrew Dennis’ clinamen generation algorithm

11.1.2 Search and Replace

A screenshot of Dennis’ “search and replace” tool (2016a) is shown in figure 11.1. It gives a good idea of the functionality of the tool. It’s a standalone application that allows users to upload or use an existing ontology. They can then enter a search term and a source text and the search term is replaced by a pataphysicalised term. Users can choose which algorithm to use for the pataphysicalisation and further manually edit the text and export it as an HTML file.

Andrew Dennis’ patadata based search and replace tool
Figure 11.1 - Andrew Dennis’ patadata based search and replace tool

The premise of the search and replace tool is simple but has great potential for creative use. It is highly reminiscent of OULIPO procedures (such as “N+7”) (see section 4.3.1) and could be used in the generation of poetry, literature and art.

Dennis has made his algorithms available on GitHub in the form of a library called PataLib (2016b).

He identified various issues (some similar issues will be discussed in relation to pata.physics.wtf in chapter 12) such as the vocabulary limitations in WordNet, the stemming problem, and the performance of patadata-generation. He also addressed the potential future inclusion of adjectives and adverbs in his search and replace algorithms.

11.1.3 Ontology

Dennis’ ontology is structured in YAML1 format—“a human friendly data serialization standard for all programming languages” (Evans 2016). Source 11.6 shows two example entries in his patadata ontology. Each word (see lines 1 and 7) has one sub-entry for each of the 5 algorithms.

- absorbency:
  anomaly: tobaccophil
  antinomy: nonabsorbency
  clinamen: abhorrency
  synonym: absorbency
  syzygy: permeability
- leanness:
  anomaly: deltal
  antinomy: fatness
  clinamen: bleakness
  synonym: meagerness
  syzygy: insufficiency
Code 11.6 – Andrew Dennis’ YAML patadata ontology example

11.2 Digital Opera

Version 2 of pata.physics.wtf (see section 10.5) was used in the production of a “Digital Opera” called The Imaginary Voyage (Hugill and Scott 2013; Hugill and Scott 2014b) by Andrew Hugill, Lee Scott, Frederic Wake-Walker and The Opera Group (“Mahogany Opera Group” n.d.).

The Imaginary Voyage: the Amorphous Isle screenshot
Figure 11.2 - The Imaginary Voyage: the Amorphous Isle screenshot

The specific title of the relevant act of the opera is The Amorphous Isle (Hugill and Scott 2014a) (see image 11.2). It is described below in the words of Alfred Jarry:

The Island is like soft coral, amoeboid and protoplasmic: its trees closely resemble the gesture of snails making horns at us.

(Jarry 1996)

The music for this act was created by Andrew Hugill and the visual design by Lee Scott. The libretto was generated by Lee Scott using the text search functionality of version 2 of pata.physics.wtf.

Practically, the idea of this act of the opera is to navigate the map shown in image 11.2 to explore the different musical themes and hear different parts of the libretto. In the centre is a circle which displays images based on the current mood.

It is languid and drifting, shapeless and ambiguous. […] The island is presented as a quincuncial projection […], complete with pulsing gridlines and curious symbols that mark musical settlements. There are thirty settlements in total: seven of these are dedicated to Jarry’s description of the three ‘kings’ that reside on The Amorphous Isle, ten are ‘lighthouses’ that appear on the coastline, and thirteen exist as ‘nebulas’, pockets of activity that have no fixed location. Each settlement is assigned a visual theme such as cyclical movement, abstract pattern or light in motion, as well as a specific ‘feel’ that is determined by its musical content. […] The music includes slow, subtle transformations, gentle textures, drones and a fairly static harmonic structure.

(Hugill and Scott 2013)

The source text for the libretto is shown below courtesy of Lee Scott (2014). ‘Mood’ keywords are shown in bold with lines of the libretto below.


…my tuning fork. imagine the perplexity of a man outside time …
…mandrills or clowns, spread their caudal fins out wide like acrobats …
…griddlecake, hard cube-shaped milk, and different liqueurs in glasses as thick as a bishop’s amethyst …


…peacocks’ tails, gave us a display of dancing on the glassy …


…wasps and bumblebees and the vibration of a fly’s wing …


…bodies striking the hours of union and division of the black …


…tangential point of the universe, distorting it according to the sphere’s …


…others: may your dire sorrow flyaway …
…no longer deep enough to satisfy our honour …
…other side of the green sleep of hulls; ships passed away …


…loved her like the infinite series of numbers …
…the veritable portrait of three persons of god in three escutcheons …


…it will set. fear creates silence nothing is terrifying …
…forth revealing the distinction and evil engraved in the wood …
…underground arose from ali baba screaming in the pitiless oil …


…sibyls record the formula of happiness, which is double: be amorous …
…the lord of the island gloried that his creation was good …


…like earth; the enemy of fire and renascent from it …
…awesome figure, warlike and sacerdotal, glared at the assembly …
…is not an island but a man …


…quincuncial trees…


…the vigilant gaze of the spirit of the dead …
…do not make as much noise as a single drum …
…the oars made a clangourous sound as they scraped along the bow …


…a strange upon a clam sea quilted with sand; faustroll …
…each person present threw a pebble into the sea …
…depth and with edges that tend to ebb and flow …


…in a striking metamorphosis the mourning color of the hangings turned …

11.3 Dissemination & Impact

11.3.1 Publications

The research presented in this thesis was published in 4 main sources briefly described below.

Fania Raczinski and Dave Everitt
Creative Zombie Apocalypse: A Critique of Computer Creativity Evaluation (2016). This conference paper critiqued issues in creative computing evaluation and by concatenating and enhancing existing models of creativity, proposed an initial outline of the interpretation and evaluation framework elaborated further in this thesis in chapter 9. It was presented at the 2nd International Symposium for Creative Computing in Oxford in mid 2016. This paper did not mention pataphysics.

Fania Raczinski, Hongji Yang and Andrew Hugill
Creative Search Using Pataphysics (2013). This conference paper described an earlier version of the pata.physics.wtf system (see chapter 10.5), describing the 3 pataphysical algorithms and an overall outline of the motivation and implementation of this early prototype. The paper was presented in Sydney at the 9th ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition in mid 2013.

Andrew Hugill, Hongji Yang, Fania Raczinski and James Sawle
The pataphysics of creativity: developing a tool for creative search (2013). This article was published in the Digital Creativity journal in late 2013. It introduced the motivation for using pataphysics to support computer creativity and discussed early thoughts on a possible architecture and design of a pataphysical search system. This article was written before the development of the first prototype so only discussed theoretical work.

James Sawle, Fania Raczinski and Hongji Yang
A Framework for Creativity in Search Results (2011). This was an early conference paper presented (by James Sawle) at the 3rd International Conference on Creative Content Technologies in Rome in 2011. It introduced an early evaluation metric for creative search.

11.3.2 Talks & Exhibits

In addition to the conference talks, pata.physics.wtf and the related research were exhibited at various events or discussed in public seminars listed below.

June 2016

Exhibited pata.physics.wtf at the Creative Technologies postgraduate student showcase at the Innovation Centre of DMU.

October 2015

Computer Arts Society (CAS) seminar on Pata-computed Poetry at the Phoenix centre for independent film, art and digital culture in Leicester (Clark 2015b; Clark 2015a).

November 2014

Exhibited pata.physics.wtf at the IOCT Leicester Media School (LMS) launch showcase at DMU.

August 2014

Exhibited pata.physics.wtf at the IOCT PhD research showcase at the Phoenix Cube Gallery in Leicester (Clark 2014).

February 2013

Contributed to a talk on The Pataphysics of the Future by Andrew Hugill, Hongji Yang and Fania Raczinski at the Transdisciplinary Common Room (TDC) at DMU (Transdisciplinary DMU 2013).

11.3.3 Community Impact

pata.physics.wtf has received some nice feedback from the community.

In 2014 the site was featured on patakosmos.com, a Pataphysical Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Institutes Tourist Map by Giovanni Ricciardi (2014). He called it an “exceptional tool, an online project that dismantles and continually redefines all meaning. La pataphysique est la fin des fins.”. Image 11.3 shows a screenshot of the site from late 2014.

Screenshot of patakosmos.com in 2014
Figure 11.3 - Screenshot of patakosmos.com in 2014

At the LMS launch in 2014 where pata.physics.wtf was showcased the DMU Twitter account sent a nice little review as shown below.

[pataphysics] Google twisted twin! Great IOCT project

(Tweet by @dmuleicester)

In 2016 pata.physics.wtf received a lovely piece of fan-mail by the Musée Patamécanique.

Dear Imaginary friend,

We love what you love and we think your work is lovely. Thank you for helping to bring the syzygy search engine to life.

Truly. Love, Your imaginary friends and fans here at Musée Patamécanique

(Musée Patamécanique 2016)


Clark, Sean. 2014. “IOCT Phd Showcase 2014.” Flickr. link.

———. 2015a. “CAS Talk: IOCT - Fania Raczinski (2015).” Vimeo. link.

———. 2015b. “IOCT Talks - Videos Now Available.” Phoenix | Interact Labs. link.

Dennis, Andrew. 2016a. “Investigation of a patadata-based ontology for text based search and replacement.” BA Thesis, University of London.

———. 2016b. “PataLib a Pataphysical Toolkit for Python.” GitHub. link.

Evans, Clark. 2016. “YAML 1.2. YAML: YAML Ain’t Markup Language.” link.

Hugill, Andrew, and Lee Scott. 2013. “The Imaginary Voyage: an online opera.” Digital Creativity 24 (3): 268–73.

———. 2014a. “Amorphous Isle. the Imaginary Voyage (an Online Opera).” link.

———. 2014b. “The Imaginary Voyage (an Online Opera).” link.

Hugill, Andrew, Hongji Yang, Fania Raczinski, and James Sawle. 2013. “The pataphysics of creativity: developing a tool for creative search.” Digital Creativity 24 (3): 237–51.

“Mahogany Opera Group.” n.d. link.

Raczinski, Fania, and Dave Everitt. 2016. “Creative Zombie Apocalypse: A Critique of Computer Creativity Evaluation.” In International Symposium of Creative Computing. Oxford, UK.

Raczinski, Fania, Hongji Yang, and Andrew Hugill. 2013. “Creative Search Using Pataphysics.” In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Creativity and Cognition, 274–80. Sydney, Australia.

Ricciardi, Giovanni. 2014. “Pataphysical Search Tool.” Patakosmos.com. link.

Sawle, James, Fania Raczinski, and Hongji Yang. 2011. “A Framework for Creativity in Search Results.” In Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Creative Content Technologies, 54–57. Rome.

Scott, Lee. 2014. private communication.

Transdisciplinary DMU. 2013. “The Pataphysics of the Future.” YouTube. link.

  1. The name of this language was originally called “Yet Another Markup Language” but then changed to a recursive acronym “YAML Ain’t Markup Language”.