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Thesis Defense - Wrensch

Programming Computationally Enhanced Craft Items
Thomas Wrensch
Computer Science PhD Candidate
6/8/2001
6:30pm-8:30pm

This thesis is a study a builder's point of view of materials that blend physical objects with computation. Specifically, this study is placed in the context of craft, where the builders are crafters and the materials are computationally enhanced craft items (CECIs). CECIs are traditional craft materials enhanced with behavior and sufficient computation to control the behavior and provide end-user programmability.

The question guiding this work is: What are the minimal set of technical solutions that need to be developed in order to make general CECI programming feasible? An examination of this question breaks into two areas.

The first area -- creating CECIs -- is discussed by considering them as variations of traditional craft materials and looking at how they differ from those materials. The prototype CECI created as part of this study are used as concrete examples to identify and explain these differences.

The second area -- programming by crafters -- is illustrated using a scenario. The issues are expanded on and generalized in a discussion of the unique features of the environment in which CECI programming happens. These features are then used to support a design for a programming language and environment.

The results of this study are presented as detailed specifications of the technical solutions needed to design and develop CECIs and their programming system. Other results of this study include a model for CECIs, an understanding of the role of behaviors as a bridge between computation and physical objects, and an example of a programming languages that may apply to user control of other objects that combine physical and computational materials.

Committee: Michael Eisenberg, Associate Professor (Chair)
Mark Gross, School of Architecture
Robbie Berg, Wellesley College
Gerhard Fischer, Professor
Elizabeth Bradley, Associate Professor
Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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