Max Peeperkorn, Dan Brown and colleagues Tom Kouwenhoven and Anna Jordanous receive Best Student Paper Award at ICCC’24

Friday, July 5, 2024

PhD candidate Max Peeperkorn, his co-advisors Professors Dan Brown and Anna Jordanous, and fellow PhD candidate Tom Kouwenhoven have received a Best Student Paper Award for their work titled “Is temperature the creativity parameter of large language models?” Their research was presented at the 15th International Conference on Computational Creativity, held in June 2024 at Jönköping University in Sweden.

“Congratulations to Max, Dan and their colleagues,” said Raouf Boutaba, University Professor and Director of the Cheriton School of Computer Science. “They found that the so-called temperature parameter of a large language model, which influences the randomness of its output, is more subtle and at best only moderately correlated with aspects of creativity, contrary to what is often claimed. Their recommendations will help guide us towards more informed and useful creative behaviours of LLMs.”

Max Peeperkorn, Tom Kouwenhoven, Dan Brown and Anna Jordanous

L to R: Max Peeperkorn, Tom Kouwenhoven, Dan Brown and Anna Jordanous

Max Peeperkorn is a PhD candidate at the University of Kent’s School of Computing, where he studies computational creativity. Max explores the social aspects of creativity, in particular how social information, such as critiques and reviews, can be applied to evaluate creative output, and how that is useful in computational co-creativity systems.

Tom Kouwenhoven is a PhD candidate at the Leiden Institute for Advanced Computer Science and the Creative Intelligence Lab at Leiden University, Netherlands. His research focuses on improving communication between humans and artificial intelligence by co-creating shared vocabularies.

Dan Brown is a Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science. His interdisciplinary research spans computational creativity, music information retrieval, and bioinformatics. Dan is also an Honorary Professor at the School of Computing of the University of Kent.

Anna Jordanous is a Reader (Professor) at the University of Kent’s School of Computing. Her research interests include computational creativity and its evaluation, music informatics, digital humanities, knowledge modelling, semantic web, and natural language processing. 

Insights from this award-winning research

Large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT and Claude, have become widespread tools for various creative tasks, including writing stories, poems, jokes, and video game dialogues, producing outputs that range from beautiful to peculiar, pastiche to outright plagiarism. The temperature parameter of an LLM, which controls the randomness of its output, is often referred to as the creativity parameter because of its role in generating diverse outputs. Temperature may have an effect on creativity because without variation nothing new can be created. 

The researchers investigated this claim using a narrative generation task with a fixed context, model and prompt. Their main goal was to investigate how temperature affects the creativity of story generation. They empirically evaluated the LLM output for different temperature values using four conditions for creativity in narrative generation: novelty, typicality, cohesion, and coherence. 

Their findings revealed that temperature was weakly correlated with novelty, moderately negatively correlated with coherence, and had no significant relationship with cohesion or typicality. Contrary to the creativity parameter claim, the research team found that the influence of temperature on LLM creativity is both subtle and weak. Overall, however, higher temperatures did lead to slightly more novel outputs. They conclude by discussing future areas for research, principally ideas that allow creative outputs of LLMs to rely less on chance.


To learn more about the research on which this article is based, please refer to Max Peeperkorn, Tom Kouwenhoven, Dan Brown, Anna Jordanous. Is Temperature the Creativity Parameter of Large Language Models? May 2024. arXiv:2405.00492. Presented at the 15th International Conference on Computational Creativity, June 17–21, 2024 at the University of Jönköping in Sweden.

The 14th International Conference on Computational Creativity, held in June 2023, was hosted by the University of Waterloo.

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