The authors propose a variational art algorithm: a virtual system-based optimization algorithm developed for generating images. Observing that the topology optimization method used for multiphysics system design can produce two- or three-dimensional layouts without baselines, the authors propose to expand it beyond engineering applications for generating images. They have devised a virtual physical system—a heat-path system—that “interprets” the optimization-based process of image generation as the simultaneous drawing of multiple strokes in a painting.

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