Journal of The Royal Society Interface Volume 17 Issue 164
Beauty is subjective, and as such it, of course, cannot be defined in absolute terms. But we all know or feel when something is beautiful to us personally. And in such instances, methods of statistical physics and network science can be used to quantify and to better understand what it is that evokes that pleasant feeling, be it when reading a book or looking at a painting. Indeed, recent large-scale explorations of digital data have lifted the veil on many aspects of our artistic expressions that would remain forever hidden in smaller samples. From the determination of complexity and entropy of art paintings to the creation of the flavour network and the principles of food pairing, fascinating research at the interface of art, physics and network science abounds. We here review the existing literature, focusing in particular on culinary, visual, musical and literary arts. We also touch upon cultural history and culturomics, as well as on the connections between physics and the social sciences in general. The review shows that the synergies between these fields yield highly entertaining results that can often be enjoyed by layman and experts alike. In addition to its wider appeal, the reviewed research also has many applications, ranging from improved recommendation to the detection of plagiarism.