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The Creative Language System Group

Research Mission

  • Our Computational Creativity (CC) group is dedicated to the computational exploration of language and its creative potential, from  Metaphor, Simile, Analogy and Blending to complex social phenomena such as Irony and Humour.
  • We are part of the EC Project WHIM (the What-If Machine). We build the idea-generation systems that feed novel counter-factual premises to other WHIM components.
  • We lead the EC PROSECCO network (PRomoting the Scientific Exploration of Computational Creativity). This international project promotes CC via Autumn schools, code camps and other educational events.
  • We promote a vision of the The Creative Web, in which Computational Creativity is delivered via creative Web Services like our own Metaphor Magnet
  • Sample our work via the autonomous Twitterbot @MetaphorMagnet, which uses the Metaphor Magnet service and the Flux Capacitor change generator to generate its own insightful views on the world on an hourly basis.
  • Check out, our new Web initiative to promote Computational Creativity via comics and cartoons.


  • Veale, T., Shutova, E. and Beigman Klebanov, B. (2016).

    Veale, T., Shutova, E. and Beigman Klebanov, B. (2016). Metaphor: A Computational Perspective. Morgan Claypool, Synthesis Lectures on Human Language Technologies.

    DOI: 10.2200/S00694ED1V01Y201601HLT031 [chapter 1]

  • Veale, T. (2015).

    Veale, T. (2015). Computational approaches to language and creativity: Creativity Ex Machina. In Rodney Jones (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Language and Creativity, pp 353-366. [prefinal version, pdf]

  • Veale, T. and Li, G. (2015).

    Veale, T. and Li, G. (2015). Distributed Divergent Creativity: Computational Creative Agents at Web Scale. Cognitive Computation (May 2015). DOI:10.1007/s12559-015-9337-9 [prefimal version, pdf]

  • Valitutti, A. and Veale, T. (2015).

    Valitutti, A. and Veale, T. (2015). Inducing an Ironic Effect in Automated Tweets. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII2015), September 21-24, Xi’an, China. [pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2015).

    The Humour of Exceptional Cases: Jokes as Compressed Thought Experiments. In Brône, G., Feyaerts, K.J. and Veale, T. (eds.), Cognitive Linguistics and Humor Research (Applications of Cognitive Linguistics), Mouton de Gruyter, 69-90. [pre-final pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2015).

    Veale, T. (2015). Game of Tropes: Exploring the Placebo Effect in Computational Creativity. In the Proceedings of ICCC-2015, the Sixth International Conference on Computational Creativity, Park City, Utah, May 31-June 3, 2015. [pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2015).

    Veale, T. (2015). Ode to a Keatsian Turn: Creating Meaningful and Poetic Instances of Rhetorical Forms. In Tarek Besold, Marco Schorlemmer and Alan Smaill (Eds.) Computational Creativity Research: Towards Creative Machines. Atlantis Press. [pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2014).

    Veale, T. (2014). Running With Scissors: Cut-Ups, Boundary Friction and Creative Reuse. Proceedings of ICCBR-2014, the 22nd International Conference on Case-Based Reasoning, Cork, Ireland, September.[pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2014).

    Veale, T. (2014). Coming Good and Breaking Bad: Generating Transformative Character Arcs For Use in Compelling Stories. Proceedings of ICCC-2014, the 5th International Conference on Computational Creativity, Ljubljana, Slovenia, June 2014. [pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2014).

    Veale, T. (2014). A Service-Oriented Architecture for Metaphor Processing. Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Metaphor in NLP, at ACL 2014, the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, June 2014. [pdf]

  • Veale, T. (2014).

    Veale, T. (2014). The ABCs of XYZs: Creativity and Conservativity in Humorous Epithets. In: J. Manjaly & B. Indurkhya (Eds.) Cognition, Experience, and Creativity. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan. [pdf]


Current Projects

Metaphor Magnet

Metaphor Magnet is an online software application that allows you to explore the space of affective conceptual metaphors. The Metaphor Magnet application can also be used as a service by other NLP applications, returning XML documents to the client. Details of this XML functionality are provided at the end of this page.

Thesaurus Rex

Thesaurus Rex organizes words according to the fine-grained ad-hoc categories they are placed into by speakers in everyday language. But Thesaurus Rex is more than a distributional thesaurus.  Enter a word and you can see the many different categories it is placed into, but enter an ad-hoc category of your own design, such as mythical monster or bland food, and see which concepts can be recruited for your category.

Metaphor Eyes

Metaphor is a fundamentally knowledge-hungry phenomenon. We need to possess knowledge about a topic (that which is described in a metaphor) and a vehicle (that which does the describing) before we can meaningfully describe one in terms of the other. Where does a computer acquire this conventional knowledge? From conventional language, which is abundant on the World Wide Web.

Idiom Savant

You can find a colorful description for almost anything in the texts of the world-wide-web. Of course, you can also find a great deal of nonsense and irrelevance too.Idiom Savant is a linguistic magnet for finding the sharpest needles in the haystacks of the internet. Enter a term of interest, such as priest or politician or critic or movie and Idiom Savant will show you two lists of resonant descriptions, divided acording to the perceived affect of the words employed: one list for positive descriptions, and another for negative descriptions. A sensible measure of pragmatic comparability (not just semantic similarity) is used to find the most comparable terms for your input, and to show you the positive and negative descriptions pertaining to those other terms also. For instance, enter the term critic and you will find apt descriptions for judge and monster also.

Jigsaw Bard

The Jigsaw Bard is an online application that allows you to find resonant phrases for a large range of simple properties, like quiet, or for an even larger range of complex blended properties, like quiet and calm. The Bard has already scoured vast amounts of web text to identify phrases that have a resonant quality, and has automatically indexed these phrases on the properties they most poetically suggest. Most phrases are found art in this respect -- they are well-formed fragments of English that the Bard thinks have both a poetic quality and a useful communicative function. But some phrases (shown in blue) have been directly composed by the Bard itself. Have a look and see what you think of the Bard’s compositional abilities.

The Lex-Ecologist

Ecologists study the natural environment of plants and animals. Our plants and animals are words and concepts, and our environments are large text corpora. The Lex-Ecologist allows you to explore the rich textual environment for words provided by the text of the on-line encyclopaedia Wikipedia. Observe the behaviour of concepts in this environment: observe what they do, what is done to them, what they act upon, and how they congregrate into groups.

Dorian: Analogical Portraiture

Dorian is a knowledge-base that explores this multiplicity of categorization when dealing with proper-named entities. Dorian’s knowledge-base of proper-named entities is harvested from the Google n-grams, and associates entities with the categories that speakers most commonly attribute to them. Dorian’s knowledge-base is supplemented by the category-system in Wikipedia, which adopts a less subjective, curated approach to categorization.

Aristotle: An Interactive Metaphor Finder

Let Aristotle help you find appropriate metaphors to describe a given person or thing. Simply enter the target for your metaphor (called the tenor in metaphor research), choose a property you would like to accentuate, and Aristotle will select a range of possible vehicles to carry this meaning. Click on any of these vehicles to understand the full import of the metaphor you are about to use.


Sardonicus is a simile-finder that knows the exemplary properties of different objects in the real world. It has acquired this knowledge by sifting the contents of the web in search of meaningful comparisons. It knows that ninjas are stealthy and that bowling balls are heavy and smooth enough to be called bald. It also has a healthy sense of irony, so it knows that roller-coasters are not exactly a model of consistency, and that turtles are not generally prized for their speed. The similes in Sardonicus are divided into straight-faced "factual" similes and tongue-in-cheek "ironic" similes, and are organized hierarchically using a taxonomy of adjectives.  Try it now, it might put an ironic smile on your face.


Different languages tend to represent different cultural and conceptual perspectives on the world. To the originating culture, such lexicalized perspectives may seem entirely conventional and stale, but to another they may well provide fresh and even innovative insights into the meaning and creative uses of words. DimSum aims to mine these insights from the lexical structure of Chinese, a logomorphemic language that exhibits its semantic structure quite openly in its orthographic realization.

Prototype Games

The Way of Knowledge

A levels-based grid game in which you must use your world knowledge to safely navigate each level to the next progression point. Avoid falling into pits of ignorance when you fail to answer questions correctly. The topology of the game as well as each question/puzzle is computer generated using WordNet.

Play a demo version of this game


Another levels-based grid game, in which you must use your world knowledge to find a path between different start/endpoints in Wikipedia (e.g., from Zeus to Haircream). Each level has successively longer paths for you to navigate, but hints are liberally sprinkled around each level.

Play a demo version of this game


This is a game that exploits a player’s knowledge of compound terms in a language. One must blaze a trail through a matrix of words, from the top row to the bottom, forming a chain composed of two-word compound terms. That is, each successive pair of words in the chain must comprise an established two-word phrase, like "queen mother" or "mother goose" (as in the chain "queen mother goose").

Play a demo version of this game