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IJHCS Tables of Contents: 434445464748495051525354555657585960616263

International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 53

Editors:B. R. Gaines
Dates:2000
Volume:53
Publisher:Academic Press
Standard No:ISSN 0020-7373; TA 167 A1 I5
Papers:47
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 1
  2. IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 2
  3. IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 3
  4. IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 4
  5. IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 5
  6. IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 6

IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 1

Editorial: Understanding Work and Designing Artefacts BIB 1-4
  Robert Fields; Peter Wright
Activity Theory, Cognitive Ergonomics and Distributed Cognition: Three Views of a Transport Company BIBA 5-33
  Francoise Decortis; Samuel Noirfalise; Berthe Saudelli
Activity theory, cognitive ergonomics and distributed cognition are three theoretical frameworks used to understand cooperative work settings. In the past, each has used case studies to describe and defend its point of view. However, comparisons are made difficult by the fact that these studies are usually based on different work settings. This paper describes the application of each framework to exactly the same setting. We believe our approach shows the features that are emphasized and those that are ignored in each framework, enabling us to differentiate their relevant questions. We discuss the effects of a theoretical filter on understanding the work setting, the differences in the concept of activity, the tools and interactions between humans and tools, the concept of representation, and we look at how a plurality of viewpoints may broaden any interpretation.
Ethnography, Theory and Systems Design: From Intuition to Insight BIBA 35-60
  Catriona Macaulay; David Benyon; Alison Crerar
The idea for this paper came from a debate at the 1998 ISCRAT conference in Denmark on cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT). A leading activist in the movement to bring CHAT into systems design, Bonnie Nardi, asked the question; would design not benefit more from training better ethnographers than from burdening them with such a complex set of theoretical concepts and debates as CHAT? This paper seeks to answer that question on the basis of our experiences applying CHAT concepts in a long-term design ethnography at a UK newspaper. It examines the history of the often controversial triadic relationship between ethnography, theory and systems design and argues that the CHAT framework provided us with the opportunity to move from ethnographic intuition to design insight, and that therefore the answer to Nardi's question is no-simply training good ethnographers is unlikely to be enough for a number of reasons (not least of which is the problem of how inexperienced fieldworkers become design ethnographers). The explicit use of theoretical frameworks, at least those such as CHAT which are particularly suited to design issues, discourages the tendency for ethnographers to see themselves as "proxy users" by encouraging greater reflexivity about the researcher's role in constructing the object of study. At a more pragmatic level, it helps the fieldworker navigate the apparently never-ending mass of "potentially interesting material" any field experience throws up.
Measurement in Action: AN Activity-Theoretical Perspective on Producer-User Interaction BIBA 61-89
  Mervi Hasu; Yrjo Engestrom
Why are developers, in many cases, unable to identify user problems, even when the information is ready and available? How do such miscommunication situations actually emerge and how could research and information technology help developers and users to overcome this problem? To tackle these questions, we examine a critical phase in the lifespan of a technological innovation: the transfer of a new medical technology from developers to users. Such a phase emerges especially in the early stages of implementation and diffusion, prior to the stabilization and expansion of user networks, and presupposes collaborative performance between otherwise loosely connected actors and activity systems. The innovation under scrutiny is a neuromagnetic measuring system (MEG), developed and manufactured by a Finnish start-up company. We use an activity-theoretical perspective in which the unit of analysis is a collective object-oriented activity system, a community of practitioners sharing a common object. Based on an analysis of a breakdown situation and the ensuing interactions between the users and the developers of the device, we present an enriched model of developmental contradictions in the implementation phase of the neuromagnetometer device. We argue that the anticipated outcome of the critical phase of the innovation process, the shift toward a mature customer-intelligent product driven by co-configuration work, will require a major effort to resolve developmental contradictions within and between the parties of the implementation process. As part of this re-mediation effort, shared meta-tools for dialogical diagnosis, problem solving and system redesign are needed. We suggest that these functions could conceivably be delegated to intelligent software agents, built into the MEG computer system, which would operate as boundary-crossing agents that facilitate interaction and mutual intelligibility between the perspectives of users and developers.
Design Guidelines for Dealing with Breakdowns and Repairs in Collaborative Work Settings BIBA 91-120
  Mark Hartswood; Rob Procter
We present the results of an investigation into collaborative work within UK breast screening centres. In particular, we focus on the ways in which the organization of breast screening work and the design of artefacts such as report forms afford the detection of breakdowns-i.e. situations calling for departures from the "standard" procedures-and their safe and efficient repair. We use this to devise a framework for classifying different breakdown-repair scenarios. These scenarios are distinctive in their repair costs and impacts and can be used to highlight the implications of design decisions in collaborative work settings. Finally, we show how, via a set of derived guidelines, the results of this analysis were applied to the design of artefacts, including a user interface and computer-generated documents, for a computer-aided image analysis system intended for application in the UK breast screening programme.
Building Bridges: Negotiating the Gap between Work Practice and Technology Design BIBA 121-146
  Toni Robertson
The underlying premise of this paper is that the defining constraint in the design of technology to enable people in different physical spaces to work together is the essential corporeality of human cognition. Its empirical basis is a long-term field study of cooperative design in a small distributed company. The paper is not a descriptive account of the work practices of the designers but instead structures the results of a field study in such a way that they might bridge, or reduce, the gap between the description of the work and the design of technology to support that work. The central conclusion from the field study was that the cooperative design of a software product was enabled and achieved by the work the designers did communicating with each other. The basic argument of this paper is that what needs to be supported, mediated and enabled by CSCW technology used to support cooperative design over distance is the mutual perception, for the actor and others, of the embodied actions of the participants in the process. These actions are considered as classes of cognitive practices that are simultaneously available to perceptions of the actor and others in a shared physical workspace. The public availability of these actions to the perceptions of the participants in a cooperative process enables their communicative functions. A taxonomy of embodied actions is defined that identifies and describes the embodied actions of the designers that enabled a cooperative design process. It is presented as a bridging structure between the field study of cooperative work and the design of technology that might support that work over distance.
Putting Ethnography to Work: The Case for a Cognitive Ethnography of Design BIBA 147-168
  Linden J. Ball; Thomas C. Ormerod
The methods of ethnography and cognitive psychology are frequently set in opposition to each other. Whilst such a view may be appropriate in defining pure, or prototypical, classes of each activity, the value and necessity of such a distinction is broken down when researchers are goal-directed to study complex work domains in order to foster technological change. In this paper, we outline a rapprochement of these methods, which we term cognitive ethnography. The value of qualifying ethnography in this way is to emphasize systematically the differences between ethnography as a radial category and the kinds of legitimate method used to study work practices which are often referred to as ethnographic, but which in practice differ in important ways from prototypical ethnographic studies. Features of cognitive ethnography such as observational specificity, verifiability and purposivenes challenge many of the tenets of a pure ethnographic method, yet they are essential for studies that are undertaken to inform technological change. We illustrate our arguments with reference to a project to develop a tool for supporting design re-use in innovative design environments.
Ethnographically Informed Analysis for Software Engineers BIBA 169-196
  Stephen Viller; Ian Sommerville
It is increasingly recognized that human, social, and political factors have a significant impact on software systems design. To address this, ethnographic studies of work have been used to inform the systems design process, especially in cooperative work settings where systems support several users working together. Based on our experience of these studies, we have investigated the integration of social analysis into the systems design process by developing an integrated approach to social and object-oriented analysis. New methods are unlikely to be adopted in industry unless they can be integrated with existing practice. Our approach, called Coherence, addresses this issue by helping identify use cases, generating initial use case models, and by using the Unified Modelling Language (UML) to represent social aspects of work that may have an impact on the design of computer-based systems. Coherence is the fusion of two well-established strands of research on ethnographically informed design and viewpoint-oriented requirements engineering. This paper introduces Coherence, and focuses on the support provided for social analysis. We have identified three social viewpoints, namely a distributed coordination viewpoint, a plans and procedures viewpoint and an awareness of work viewpoint. Coherence is illustrated using a case study based on an air traffic control system.
The Paradox of Understanding Work for Design BIBA 197-219
  John McCarthy
Studying the organization of work has become an important element in the design of systems and artefacts for work settings. However, although studies of work have had an influence on design, there is still some concern about the nature of the relationship between the study of work and design. Concern has been variously expressed in terms of gaps between social science and systems engineering, formality and informality, prescription and negotiation and there have been a number of attempts to bridge those gaps. In contrast, the aim of this paper is to re-view the gap and to characterize it in such a way that bridging may not be an issue. This requires a reconceptualization of the relationship between designing artefacts and understanding work. Using Bateson's levels of analysis, an account of the paradox of framing the study of work by the norms and expectations of a rationalist approach to design, exemplified by software engineering, is developed. The study of work is characterized as inevitably involving self-referential observation and inscription, characteristics which create paradox when framed by the demands of rationalist design. However, Bateson's treatment of paradox allows us to see this relationship, not as a gap to be bridged, but as an opportunity to create new forms of punctuation for design, studying work, and relations between them. Many current attempts to reconceptualize design and its relationship with understanding work emphasize the dialogical aspects of practice and theory. Bakhtin's philosophy is used here to advance consideration of the dialogical aspects of "understanding work for design" with particular reference to the use of representations such as scenarios. A critique of exemplar representations is used to exemplify dimensions, such as addressivity and unfinalisability, that would characterize a dialogical punctuation of understanding work and design.

IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 2

Cognitive and Gender Factors Influencing Navigation in a Virtual Environment BIBA 223-249
  Tim R. H. Cutmore; Trevor J. Hine; Kerry J. Maberly; Nicole M. Langford; Grant Hawgood
Virtual environments (VEs) are becoming popular as media for training, modelling and entertainment. Little is known, however, about the factors that affect efficient and rapid acquisition of knowledge using this technology. Five experiments examined the influence of gender, passive/active navigation, cognitive style, hemispheric activation measured by electroencephalography and display information on the acquisition of two types of navigational knowledge using a VE: route and survey knowledge. Males acquired route knowledge from landmarks faster than females. In situations where survey knowledge must be used, proficiency in visual-spatial cognition is associated with better performance. The right cerebral hemisphere appears to be more activated than the left during navigational learning in a VE. In identifying cognitive factors that influence VE navigation, these results have a number of implications in the use of VEs for training purposes and may assist in linking processes involved in navigation to a more general framework of visual-spatial processing and mental imagery.
Consistency of Personality in Interactive Characters: Verbal Cues, Non-Verbal Cues, and User Characteristics BIBAK 251-267
  Katherine Isbister; Clifford Nass
This study examined whether people would interpret and respond to verbal (text) and non-verbal cues (posture) of personality in interactive characters just as they interpret cues from a person. In a balanced, between-subjects experiment (N=40), introverted and extroverted participants were randomly paired with one of two types of consistent computer characters: (1) matched participants' personality with both verbal and non-verbal cues or (2) completely mismatched the participant, or one of two types of inconsistent characters: (3) matched with verbal cues but not with non-verbal cues or (4) matched with non-verbal but not with verbal cues. Participants accurately identified the character's personality type in their assessment of its verbal and non-verbal cues. Preference was for consistent characters, regardless of participant personality. Consistent characters also had greater influence over peoples' behavior-interaction with consistent characters led to greater changes in people's answers than interaction with inconsistent characters. Finally, contrary to previous research, participants tended to prefer a character whose personality was complementary, rather than similar, with their own. This study demonstrates the importance of orchestrating the overall set of cues that an interactive computer character presents to the computer user, and emphasizes the need for consistency among these cues.
Keywords: interactive characters; non-verbal cues; personality; consistency.
Structure, Causality, Visibility and Interaction: Propositions for Evaluating Engagement in Narrative Multimedia BIBAK 269-287
  Bride Mallon; Brian Webb
Within the field of multimedia there are few methods, criteria or standards for evaluating the experiential impact of a design. This paper offers six propositions for structure, causality, visibility and interaction, which appear to produce cognitive, emotive and sensory engagement in users' reactions to a narrative multimedia design. The developmental approach was phenomenological. The propositions derive from a focus group study in which 12 users played with four commercial computer games, then we (and they) analysed their reactions. Two observations from the study inform the morphology of narrative. Firstly, there is a fundamental conflict between narrative in its traditional form and interactivity, and secondly, the primal features of narrative-causality, temporality and linearity-are disrupted within a hyper structure. The first set of propositions suggests solutions for such conflicts. These are spatial containment, causality, and demands on user's skills. Further propositions for engaging interaction are causality of dialogue, apparent intelligence of the program and hiding the delivery medium.
Keywords: narrative; evaluation; multimedia; games; engagement.
The Coding Principle and Method for Automatic Recognition of Jia Gu Wen Characters BIBA 289-299
  Feng Li; Peng-Yung Woo
Jia Gu Wen characters carved on turtle backs or animal bones with the features of drawings are the most ancient Chinese characters used about 3000 years ago. This paper proposes a theory and technique for Jia Gu Wen character recognition based on coding. The key idea is to treat a Jia Hu Wen character as a non-directed graph. Its topological features are extracted to be the basis of recognition. The approach proposed in this paper is also applicable to character recognition of other languages such as Japanese, Korean, Mongolian or Tibetan.
World Wide Web Navigation Aid BIBAK 301-330
  Milena Head; Norm Archer; Yufei Yuan
The challenge for the World Wide Web user is to discover and rediscover useful information from very rich but also very diversified sources in the Web environment. The Web browser is a key interface to facilitate Web information access. In this paper, a framework is proposed to identify and investigate key factors that determine the Web browser's ability to assist users in performing various information-retrieval tasks. Design guidelines to help overcome the limitations associated with human information processing and the Web environment are introduced. Based on these guidelines, an on-line history tool (MEMOS) is developed to support user browsing, organization, and rediscovery tasks in both intra- and inter-sessional information retrieval. Empirical tests of user performance with the MEMOS tool are analysed in the context of our framework. We show that the MEMOS tool was perceived to be more useful than the history mechanisms used in popular Web browsers, but its benefit was most significant for inter-sessional support. Using sessions previously saved through the MEMOS tool to tackle specific retrieval questions was significantly faster and more accurate than trying to use standard rediscovery methods.
Keywords: World Wide Web; navigation; interaction history; interface; information retrieval; browser.

IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 3

Introduction/Editorial: Machine Discovery BIB 333-334
  Derek Sleeman; Vincent Corruble; Raul Valdes-Perez
Experimental Design Heuristics for Scientific Discovery: The Use of "Baseline" and "Known Standard" Controls BIBA 335-349
  Lisa M. Baker; Kevin Dunbar
What type of heuristics do scientists use when they design experiments? In this paper, we analysed the ways biological scientists designed complex experiments at their weekly laboratory meetings. In two studies, we found that one of the key components of experimental design is that specific types of control conditions are used in the service of different goals that are important in scientific discovery. "Baseline" control conditions are identical to the experimental manipulation, except that a key feature, such as a reagent, is absent from the control condition and present in the experimental condition. "Known standard" control conditions involve performing the experimental technique on materials where the expected result is already well known; if the expected result is obtained, the scientist can have confidence that the procedure is working. In Study 1, which analysed transcripts of real-world biology laboratory meetings, we found that scientists used baseline controls when testing hypotheses and known standard controls when focusing on possible error. In Study 2, undergraduate science students were asked to address the goals of hypothesis testing and dealing with potential error as they designed experiments. Like the real-world scientists, science majors proposed baseline controls to test hypotheses and known standard controls to deal with potential error. We argue that baseline control conditions play an important role in hypothesis testing: unexpected results obtained on baseline control conditions can alert scientists that their hypotheses are incorrect, and hence should encourage the scientists to reformulate their hypotheses. We further argue that use of known standard controls is a heuristic that enables scientists to solve an important problem in real-world science: when to trust their data. Both of these heuristics can be incorporated into experimental design programs, thus making it more likely that scientific discoveries will be made.
On the Notion of Interestingness in Automated Mathematical Discovery BIBA 351-375
  Simon Colton; Alan Bundy; Toby Walsh
We survey five mathematical discovery programs by looking in detail at the discovery processes they illustrate and the success they had. We focus on how they estimate the interestingness of concepts and conjectures and extract some common notions about interestingness in automated mathematical discovery. We detail how empirical evidence is used to give plausibility to conjectures, and the different ways in which a result can be thought of as novel. We also look at the ways in which the programs assess how surprising and complex a conjecture statement is, and the different ways in which the applicability of a concept or conjecture is used. Finally, we note how a user can set tasks for the program to achieve and how this affects the calculation of interestingness. We conclude with some hints on the use of interestingness measures for future developers of discovery programs in mathematics.
Computer Generation of Process Explanations in Nuclear Astrophysics BIBA 377-392
  Sakir Kocabas; Pat Langley
In this paper we describe ASTRA, a computational aid for generating process explanations in nuclear astrophysics. The system operates in two stages, the first using knowledge of quantum theory to produce a set of legal reactions among elements and the second searching for pathways of such reactions that explain the construction of some element from lighter ones. ASTRA has found apparently novel reactions that involve proton and neutron capture, as well as novel fusion reactions that produce neutrons and deuterium. The system has also generated reaction pathways for helium, carbon and oxygen that do not appear in the scientific literature. However, ASTRA also finds many other reaction pathways that are less interesting and that suggest priorities for future research.
The Computational Support of Scientific Discovery BIBA 393-410
  Pat Langley
In this paper, we review AI research on computational discovery and its recent application to the discovery of new scientific knowledge. We characterize five historical stages of the scientific discovery process, which we use as an organizational framework in describing applications. We also identify five distinct steps during which developers or users can influence the behavior of a computational discovery system. Rather than criticizing such intervention, as done in the past, we recommend it as the preferred approach to using discovery software. As evidence for the advantages of such human-computer cooperation, we report seven examples of novel, computer-aided discoveries that have appeared in the scientific literature. We consider briefly the role that humans played in each case, then examine one such interaction in more detail. We close by recommending that future systems provide more explicit support for human intervention in the discovery process.
Concise, Intelligible, and Approximate Profiling of Multiple Classes BIBA 411-436
  Raul E. Valdes-Perez; Francisco Pereira; Vladimir Pericliev
When a dataset involves multiple classes, there is often a need to express the key contrasting features among these classes in humanly understandable terms, that is, to profile the classes. Commonly, one class is contrasted from the rest by aggregating the latter into a pseudo-class; alternatively, classes are treated separately without coordinating their profiles with those of the other classes. We introduce the concise all pairs profiling (CAPP) method for concise, intelligible, and approximate profiling of large classifications. The method compares all classes pairwise and then minimizes the overall number of features needed to guarantee that each pair of classes is contrasted by at least one feature. Then each class profile gets its own minimized list of features, annotated with how these features contrast the class from the others. Significant applications to social and natural science are demonstrated.

IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 4

Natural Language Querying of Databases: An Information Extraction Approach in the Conceptual Query Language BIBAK 439-492
  Vesper Owei
Natural language (NL) interfaces for database (DB) query formulation have always been recognized as a much-needed enhancement for DB end-users. NL systems, however, have shortcomings that have led some DB researchers to question their practicality. The drawbacks stem primarily from their weak interpretative power. This weakness is, to a large extent, due to their inability to deal with the nuances in human use of natural language. Some studies, however, show that NL database systems are practical and useful in narrow domains like DB querying. One way of addressing the difficulty with NL database query languages (DBQLs) is to combine concept-based DBQL paradigms with NL approaches to enhance the overall ease-of-use of the query interface. In this study, the conceptual query language-with-natural language (CQL/NL) is proposed. CQL/NL uses information extraction methods to filter NL query statements for search predicates that are derived from constructs on conceptual schemas. In this way, it avoids the computational difficulty with full-fledged NL parsing. In the main, we draw on certain concepts in natural language processing and computational linguistics to develop CQL/NL.
Keywords: Concept-based query languages; Conceptual query language; Database interface; Intelligent query tool; Natural language query; Information extraction; Natural language processing; Natural language generation; Semantic grammar; Message understanding.
Qualitative Modelling of Unknown Interface Behaviour BIBA 493-515
  M. H. Lee; S. M. Garrett
When faced with an interface to an unknown system or device humans adopt exploratory interactive behaviour in order to gain information and insight. This paper describes a computer program which probes, observes and models the input-output space of unknown systems. We use a schema concept as the memory structure for recording events and adopt a constructive approach that avoids preprocessing the raw data. We believe qualitative assessments are important in early analysis and employ techniques from qualitative reasoning research in order to capture correlation behaviour. The aim is to gain insight into the nature of an unknown system for guidance in future model selection. A series of experiments and their results are discussed, together with the assumptions and limitations of the method. We suggest further developments for future experiments that appear promising.
Skill-Based Interpretation of Noisy Probe Signals Enhanced with a Genetic Algorithm BIBA 517-535
  Bogdan Filipi; Iztok Un; Matja Perpar
The paper presents the design and evaluation of an adaptive signal processing procedure based on human skill. The focus is on interpreting probe signals detected in gas-liquid flow in the presence of noise where existing signal interpretation techniques may encounter difficulties. Interpretation of a probe signal requires construction of a corresponding two-state signal that denotes the presence of the phases, i.e. gas and liquid, at the probe tip. To develop a computer procedure that would imitate a skilled operator in probe signal interpretation, manual knowledge acquisition and evolutionary optimization were employed. First, a prototype signal interpretation procedure based on operator skill was designed, and the procedure parameters were then optimized with a genetic algorithm. In the optimization process, a two-state signal reconstructed from the probe signal by an operator was used as a reference. The robustness of the approach was tested in a series of numerical experiments. They included local evaluation on training and test signals, calculation of global void fraction values, and an assessment of variability among different experts. The results showed that the developed technique is highly consistent with the operator way of signal interpretation and represents a reliable prerequisite for gas-liquid flow measurements.
Potential Determinants of Heavier Internet Usage BIBAK 537-550
  Lynette Armstrong; James G. Phillips; Lauren L. Saling
Despite its uses, the Internet is liable to be abused. "Internet Addiction" is a newly proposed construct, derived form DSM-IV criteria for substance abuse. As a very recent phenomenon, excess internet use probably arises through pre-existing mechanisms. The addictive element may be the search for stimulation through interactive services, or the Internet may serve the purpose of an escape from real-life difficulties. We therefore considered the extent to which sensation seeking or poor self-esteem predicts heavier Internet use. Fifty participants, recruited through the Internet or the Internet Addiction Support Group, completed an Internet Related Problem Scale, the MMPI-2 Addiction Potential Scale, the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory and the Sensation Seeking Scale. The Internet Related Problem Scale showed a moderate level of internal consistency and demonstrated construct validity, predicting hours of Internet use and having a relationship with the Addiction Potential Scale. While poorer self-esteem predicted greater scores on the Internet Related Problem Scale, impulsivity did not. Researchers need to re-assess previous conceptualizations of the typical "computer addict" as a highly educated, male introvert with a constant need for intellectual stimulation (Shotton, 1991).
Keywords: internet; addiction; self-esteem; gambling.
The Effects of Hyperlinks on Navigation in Virtual Environments BIBAK 551-581
  Roy A. Ruddle; Andrew Howes; Stephen J. Payne; Dylan M. Jones
Hyperlinks introduce discontinuities of movement to 3-D virtual environments (VEs). Nine independent attributes of hyperlinks are defined and their likely effects on navigation in VEs are discussed. Four experiments are described in which participants repeatedly navigated VEs that were either conventional (i.e. obeyed the laws of Euclidean space), or contained hyperlinks. Participants learned spatial knowledge slowly in both types of environment, echoing the findings of previous studies that used conventional VEs. The detrimental effects on participants' spatial knowledge of using hyperlinks for movement were reduced when a time-delay was introduced, but participants still developed less accurate knowledge than they did in the conventional VEs. Visual continuity had a greater influence on participants' rate of learning than continuity of movement, and participants were able to exploit hyperlinks that connected together disparate regions of a VE to reduce travel time.
Keywords: navigation; virtual environments; hyperlinks; spatial cognition.
An Experiment in Agent Teaching by Subject Matter Experts BIBAK 583-610
  Gheorghe Tecuci; Mihai Boicu; Michael Bowman; Dorin Marcu; Ping Shyr; Cristina Cascaval
This paper presents a successful knowledge-acquisition experiment in which subject matter experts who did not have any prior knowledge-engineering experience succeeded in teaching the Disciple- COA agent how to critique courses of action, a challenge problem addressed by the DARPA's High-Performance Knowledge Bases program. We first present the COA challenge problem and the architecture of Disciple- COA, a learning agent shell from the Disciple family. Then we present the knowledge acquisition experiment, detailing both the expert-Disciple interactions, and the automatic knowledge-base development processes that take place as a result of these interactions. The results of this experiment provide strong evidence that the Disciple approach is a viable solution to the knowledge acquisition bottleneck.
Keywords: instructable agents; knowledge acquisition; machine learning; course of action critiquing; experimentation.
From the User Interface to the Consumer Interface: Results from a Global Experiment BIBAK 611-628
  Robert M. O'Keefe; Melissa Cole; Patrick Y. K. Chau; Ann Massey; Mitzi Montoya-Weiss; Mark Perry
The consumer interface, whereby consumers interact through the World Wide Web to transact consumer commerce, is a vital component of electronic commerce. We are attempting to understand this interface from a perspective that combines concepts from marketing, human-computer interaction and culture.
   We have conducted an extensive experiment comparing the reactions of subjects in the United Kingdom, United States and Hong Kong to web sites. We used the web sites for the automobile manufacturers VW, Ford and Toyota so we could vary the origin of the site. We used well-known constructs from advertising and marketing research to measure various aspects of the subjects and their reactions to the web site.
   Our basic finding is that there are fewer differences between subjects than have typically been observed by paper-based marketing experiments. There is no evidence that the origin of the site interacts with the individual. However, after performing a factor analysis on how subjects reported their purpose for using the Internet, we found considerable differences in purpose of use between US and Hong Kong subjects. American subjects are inclined to use the Internet for information search purposes, and the Hong Kong subjects are more inclined to use the Internet for social communication purposes. Further, in both countries there is a relationship between these purposes and subjects having their views on the product transformed.
Keywords: interface; human-computer interaction; electronic commerce; cultural differences.

IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 5

Empirical Evaluation of Information Visualizations: An Introduction BIB 631-635
  Chaomei Chen; Mary P. Czerwinski
Evaluating Visualizations: Using a Taxonomic Guide BIBA 637-662
  E. Morse; M. Lewis; K. A. Olsen
Although visualizations are components of many information interfaces, testing of these visual elements is rarely undertaken except as a part of overall usability testing. For this reason, it is unclear what role, if any, visualizations actually perform. Our method involves the creation of simple visual prototypes and task sets based on a visual taxonomy which allows testing of the visualization in isolation from the rest of the system. By defining tests using a visual taxonomy rather than customary tasks from the application domain, our method circumvents the problems of restricting evaluation of newer more capable systems to only those tasks which might be accomplished with older, less capable ones. This paper will discuss methods for exhaustively testing the capabilities of a visualization by mapping from a domain-independent taxonomy of visual tasks to a specific domain, i.e. information retrieval. Experimental results are presented illustrating this approach to determining the role visualizations may play in supporting users in information-seeking environments. Our methods could easily be extended to other domains including data visualization.
An Evaluation of Space-Filling Information Visualizations for Depicting Hierarchical Structures BIBA 663-694
  John Stasko; Richard Catrambone; Mark Guzdial; Kevin Mcdonald
A variety of information visualization tools have been developed recently, but relatively little effort has been made to evaluate the effectiveness and utility of the tools. This article describes results from two empirical studies of two visualization tools for depicting hierarchies, in particular, computer file and directory structures. The two tools examined implement space-filling methodologies, one rectangular, the Treemap method, and one circular, the Sunburst method. Participants performed typical file/directory search and analysis tasks using the two tools. In general, performance trends favored the Sunburst tool with respect to correct task performance, particularly on initial use. Performance with Treemap tended to improve over time and use, suggesting a greater learning cost that was partially recouped over time. Each tool afforded somewhat different search strategies, which also appeared to influence performance. Finally, participants strongly preferred the Sunburst tool, citing better ability to convey structure and hierarchy.
An Initial Examination of Ease of Use for 2D and 3D Information Visualizations of Web Content BIBA 695-714
  Kirsten Risden; Mary P. Czerwinski; Tamara Munzner; Daniel B. Cook
We present a discussion and initial empirical investigation of user-interface designs for a set of three Web browsers. The target end-user population we identified were experienced software engineers who maintained large Web sites or portals. The user study demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of two conventional 2D browsers for this target user, as well as that of XML3D, a novel browser that integrates an interactive 3D hyperbolic graph view with a more traditional 2D list view of the data. A standard collapse/expand tree browser and a Web-based hierarchical categorization similar to Yahoo!, were competitively evaluated against XML3D. No reliable difference between the two 2D browsers was observed. However, the results showed clear differences between XML3D and the 2D user interfaces combined. With XML3D, participants performed search tasks within existing categories reliably faster with no decline in the quality of their responses. It was informally observed that integrating the ability to view the overall structure of the information space with the ability to easily assess local and global relationships was key to successful search performance. XML3D was the only tool of the three that efficiently showed the overall structure within one visualization. The XML3D browser accomplished this by combining a 3D graph layout view as well as an accompanying 2D list view. Users did opt to use the 2D user-interface components of XML3D during new category search tasks, and the XML3D performance advantage was no longer obtained in those conditions. In addition, there were no reliable differences in overall user satisfaction across the three user-interface designs. Since we observed subjects using the XML3D features differently depending on the kind of search task, future studies should explore optimal ways of integrating the use of novel focus+context visualizations and 2D lists for effective information retrieval. The contribution of this paper is that it includes empirical data to demonstrate where novel focus+context views might benefit experienced users over and above more conventional user-interface techniques, in addition to where design improvements are warranted.
Snap-Together Visualization: Can Users Construct and Operate Coordinated Visualizations? BIBA 715-739
  Chris North; Ben Shneiderman
Multiple coordinated visualizations enable users to rapidly explore complex information. However, users often need unforeseen combinations of coordinated visualizations. Snap-together visualization (Snap) enables users to rapidly and dynamically construct coordinated-visualization interfaces, customized for their data, without programming. Users U001load data into desired visualizations, then construct coordinations between them for brushing and linking, overview and detail view, drill down, etc. Snap formalizes a conceptual model of visualization coordination based on the relational data model. Visualization developers can easily Snap-enable their independent visualizations using a simple API.
   Empirical evaluation reveals benefits, cognitive issues and usability concerns with coordination concepts and Snap. Two user studies explore coordination construction and operation. Data-savvy users successfully, enthusiastically and rapidly constructed powerful coordinated-visualization interfaces of their own. Operating an overview-and-detail coordination reliably improved user performance by 30-80% over detail-only and uncoordinated interfaces for most tasks.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Visual User Interfaces for Information Retrieval BIBA 741-763
  A. G. Sutcliffe; M. Ennis; J. Hu
An integrated visual thesaurus and results browser to support information retrieval was designed using a task model of information searching. The system provided a hierarchical thesaurus with a results cluster display representing similarity between retrieved documents and relevance ranking using a bullseye metaphor. Latent semantic indexing (LSI) was used as the retrieval engine and to calculate the similarity between documents. The design was tested with two information retrieval tasks. User behaviour, performance and attitude were recorded as well as usability problems. The system had few usability problems and users liked the visualizations, but recall performance was poor. The reasons for poor/good performance were investigated by examining user behaviour and search strategies. Better searchers used the visualizations more effectively and spent longer on the task, whereas poorer performances were attributable to poor motivation, difficulty in assessing article relevance and poor use of system visualizations. The bullseye browser display appeared to encourage limited evaluation of article relevance on titles, leading to poor performance. The bullseye display metaphor for article relevance was understood by users; however, they were confused by the concept of similarity searching expressed as visual clusters. The conclusions from the study are that while visual user interfaces for information searching might seem to be usable, they may not actually improve performance. Training and advisor facilities for effective search strategies need to be incorporated to enhance the effectiveness of visual user interfaces for information retrieval.
Mapping Semantic Information in Virtual Space: Dimensions, Variance and Individual Differences BIBA 765-787
  S. J. Westerman; T. Cribbin
This paper reports two studies investigating the computer-based representation of the semantic information content of databases using object location in two- and three-dimensional virtual space. In the first study, the cognitive demands associated with performing an information search task were examined under conditions where the "goodness of fit" of the spatial-semantic "mapping" was manipulated. The effects of individual differences in spatial ability and associative memory ability also were considered. Results indicated that performance equivalence, between two- and three-dimensional interfaces, could be achieved when the two-dimensional interface accounted for between 50 and 70% of the semantic variance accounted for by the three-dimensional solution. A second study, in which automatic text analysis was used to generate two- and three-dimensional solutions for document sets of varying sizes and types, supported the conclusion that, for the purpose of information search, the amount of additional semantic information that can be conveyed by a three-dimensional solution does not outweigh the associated additional cognitive demands.
Towards a Methodology for Developing Visualizations BIBA 789-807
  Martin Graham; Jessie Kennedy; David Benyon
This paper presents a case study of the development of a visualization to represent and explore the relationships between multiple hierarchical structures, specifically botanical taxonomies. The case study outlines the visualization's development from initial meetings with taxonomists, through the early visual sketches of their activities, and through to the prototype as it exists now after two rounds of usability testing. Qualitative user feedback was elicited from taxonomists who used the system, using standard techniques, taken from traditional usability methodologies such as direct observation, concurrent verbal protocols, video recording and software logs. Some difficulties and differences in the testing and stages of development arising from the information visualization (IV) approach to the graphical display, as contrasted to a more standard graphical user interface (GUI), are noted and solutions proposed.
Hypertext Authoring and Visualization BIBA 809-825
  Margit Pohl; Peter Purgathofer
Visualizing information structure plays an increasing role in hypertext systems. Empirical evidence shows that such visualizations support the users or readers of hypertext systems. The following study investigates whether such information visualizations in the form of two-dimensional graphical overview maps also support the writers of hypertext documents. It also seems plausible to assume that the process of writing text changes when graphical overview maps integrated into hypertext systems are used. We also analysed the relationship between the authoring process and the character of the finished documents. In general, it can be said that visualizing the information structure inherent in a document plays an important role in hypertext authoring. It was the only innovative feature of the hypertext authoring system we developed which was used intensively by almost all the authors. In contrast to that, the finished documents were rather traditional. Authors did not exploit the novel features of hypertext/hypermedia systems like, e.g. introducing pictures, movies or sounds. On the basis of the analysis of the hypertext authoring process guidelines can be formulated to support writers of hypertext documents.
Turning Pictures Into Numbers: Extracting and Generating Information from Complex Visualizations BIBA 827-850
  J. Gregory Trafton; Susan S. Kirschenbaum; Ted L. Tsui; Robert T. Miyamoto; James A. Ballas; Paula D. Raymond
We present a study of complex visualization usage by expert meteorological forecasters. We performed a protocol analysis and examined the types of visualizations they examined. We present evidence for how experts are able to make use of complex visualizations. Our findings suggest that users of complex visualizations create qualitative mental models from which they can then generate quantitative information. In order to build their qualitative mental models, forecasters integrated information across multiple visualizations and extracted primarily qualitative information from visualizations in a goal-directed manner. We discuss both theoretical and practical implications of this study.
Empirical Studies of Information Visualization: A Meta-Analysis BIBA 851-866
  Chaomei Chen; Yue Yu
A meta-analysis is conducted on a set of empirical studies of information visualization. To be included in the meta-analysis, a study must meet a set of selection criteria. The meta-analysis synthesizes significant levels and effect sizes, tests the heterogeneity of findings from individual studies included and tests the linear trends over a range of information visualization features with ascending visual-spatial complexity. Recommendations for future experimental studies of information visualizations are included.

IJHCS 2000 Volume 53 Issue 6

Introduction to Special Issue on Collaboration, Cooperation and Conflict in Dialogue Systems BIB 867-870
  Kristiina Jokinen; David Sadek; David Traum
Cooperation, Dialogue and Ethics BIBA 871-914
  Jens Allwood; David Traum; Kristiina Jokinen
This paper describes some of the basic cooperative mechanisms of dialogue. Ideal cooperation is seen as consisting of four features (cognitive consideration, joint purpose, ethical consideration and trust), which can also to some extent be seen as requirements building on each other. Weaker concepts such as "coordination" and "collaboration" have only some of these features or have them to lesser degrees. We point out the central role of ethics and trust in cooperation, and contrast the result with popular AI accounts of collaboration. Dialogue is also seen as associated with social activities, in which certain obligations and rights are connected with particular roles. Dialogue is seen to progress through the written, vocal or gestural contributions made by participants. Each of the contributions has associated with it both expressive and evocative functions, as well as specific obligations for participants. These functions are dependent on the surface form of a contribution, the activity and the local context, for their interpretation. We illustrate the perspective by analysing dialogue extracts from three different activity types (a travel dialogue, a quarrel and a dialogue with a computer system). Finally, we consider what kind of information is shared in dialogue, and the ways in which dialogue participants manifest this sharing to each other through linguistic and other communicative behaviour. The paper concludes with a comparison to other accounts of dialogue and prospects for integration of these ideas within dialogue systems.
Cooperative Requests and Replies in a Collaborative Dialogue Model BIBA 915-968
  Cecile Balkanski; Martine Hurault-Plantet
In this paper, we present a computational model of dialogue, and an underlying theory of action, which supports the representation of, reasoning about and execution of communicative and non-communicative actions. This model rests on a theory of collaborative discourse, and allows for cooperative human-machine communication in written dialogues. We show how cooperative behaviour, illustrated by the analysis of a dialogue corpus and formalized by an underlying theory of cooperation, is interpreted and produced in our model. We describe and illustrate in detail the main algorithms used to model the reasoning processes necessary for interpretation, planning, generation, as well as for determining which actions to perform and when. Finally, we present our implemented system.
   Our data are drawn from a corpus of human-human dialogues, selected and transcribed from a day-long recording of phone calls at a phone desk in an industrial setting (Castaing, 1993). We present an analysis of this corpus, focusing on dialogues which require, in order to succeed, helpful behaviour on the part of both the caller and the operator.
   The theoretical framework of our model rests on the theory of collaborative discourse developed by Grosz and Sidner (1986, 1990), Grosz and Kraus (1993, 1996), and further extended by Lochbaum (1994, 1995). An important objective guiding the design of our dialogue model was to allow the agent being modelled to interpret and manifest a type of cooperative behaviour which follows Grosz and Kraus's formalization of the commitment of each collaborative agent towards the actions of the other collaborative agents. The model we propose extends Lochbaum's approach to discourse processing in extending her interpretation algorithm to allow for the treatment of a wider range of dialogues, and in providing an algorithm of task advancement which guides the generation process and allows for the interleaving of execution and planning, thereby facilitating cooperation among agents. The cooperative behaviour of the agent being modelled rests on the use of communicative actions allowing agents to share additional knowledge and assist each other in performing their actions.
Conflict Resolution in Collaborative Planning Dialogs BIBA 969-1015
  Jennifer Chu-Carroll; Sandra Carberry
In a collaborative planning environment in which the agents are autonomous and heterogeneous, it is inevitable that discrepancies in the agents' beliefs result in conflicts during the planning process. In such cases, it is important that the agents engage in collaborative negotiation to resolve the detected conflicts in order to determine what should constitute their shared plan of actions and shared beliefs. This paper presents a plan-based model for conflict detection and resolution in collaborative planning dialogs. Our model specifies how a collaborative system should detect conflicts that arise between the system and its user during the planning process. If the detected conflicts warrant resolution, our model initiates collaborative negotiation in an attempt to resolve the conflicts in the agent's beliefs. In addition, when multiple conflicts arise, our model identifies and addresses the most effective aspect in its pursuit of conflict resolution. Furthermore, by capturing the collaborative planning process in a recursive Propose-Evaluate-Modify cycle of actions, our model is capable of handling embedded negotiation during conflict resolution.
The Agreement Process: An Empirical Investigation of Human-Human Computer-Mediated Collaborative Dialogs BIBA 1017-1076
  Barbara Di Eugenio; Pamela W. Jordan; Richmond H. Thomason; Johanna D. Moore
In this paper, we investigate the empirical correlates of the agreement process. Informally, the agreement process is the dialog process by which collaborators achieve joint commitment on a joint action. We propose a specific instantiation of the agreement process, derived from our theoretical model, that integrates the IRMA framework for rational problem solving (Bratman, Israel & Pollack, 1988) with Clark's (1992, 1996) work on language as a collaborative activity; and from the characteristics of our task, a simple design problem (furnishing a two-room apartment) in which knowledge is equally distributed among agents, and needs to be shared. The main contribution of our paper is an empirical study of some of the components of the agreement process. We first discuss why we believe the findings from our corpus of computer-mediated dialogs are applicable to human-human collaborative dialogs in general. We then present our theoretical model, and apply it to make predictions about the components of the agreement process. We focus on how information is exchanged in order to arrive at a proposal, and on what constitutes a proposal and its acceptance/rejection. Our corpus study makes use of features of both the dialog and the domain reasoning situation, and led us to discover that the notion of commitment is more useful to model the agreement process than that of acceptance/rejection, as it more closely relates to the unfolding of negotiation.
Dialectical Argumentation to Solve Conflicts in Advice Giving: A Case Study in the Promotion of Healthy Nutrition BIBA 1077-1115
  Floriana Grasso; Alison Cawsey; Ray Jones
Conflict situations do not only arise from misunderstandings, erroneous perceptions, partial knowledge, false beliefs, etc., but also from differences in "opinions" and in the different agents' value systems. It is not always possible, and maybe not even desirable, to "solve" this kind of conflict, as the sources are subjective. The communicating agents can, however, use knowledge of the opponent's preferences, to try and convince the partner of a point of view which they wish to promote. To deal with these situations requires an argumentative capacity, able to handle not only "demonstrative" arguments but also "dialectic" ones, which may not necessarily be based on rationality and valid premises. This paper presents a formalization of a theory of informal argumentation, focused on techniques to change attitudes of the interlocutor, in the domain of health promotion.
Tailoring Inference-Rich Descriptions through Making Compromises between Conflicting Cooperation Principles BIBA 1117-1146
  Helmut Horacek
Acting cooperatively in a communicative situation requires the computer agents to behave collaboratively. This activity is complicated by many sorts of conflicts that may arise in complex interaction environments. In order to capture essential forces driving dialogues in these environments, a number of formal models have been proposed, which focus on choosing among action and reaction types in comparably simple sequences. In this paper, we propose a method to enhance these models by the capability to produce longer dialogue contributions, which is done through tailoring variations in richly structured system actions and choosing among them, guided by quantitative and partially conflicting cooperativity principles based on the Gricean conversation maxims. We have elaborated this model in the context of an interactive, formal proof presentation system. Acting cooperatively for that system means collaborating with the human user by considerably manipulating a proof as produced by a theorem prover to obtain a human-adequate form, and to resolve conflicts between completeness of detail, length of the descriptions given and degree of explicitness required. Our approach complements models of cooperativity and collaboration that are grounded in basic principles of rationality by mediating between partially conflicting conversation goals in producing more complex dialogue contributions.
Erratum: Collaboration, Cooperation and Conflict in Dialogue Systems BIB 1147
  Sakir Kocabas; Pat Langley
Computer Generation of Process Explanations in Nuclear Astrophysics BIBA 1149-1164
  Sakir Kocabas; Pat Langley
In this paper we describe ASTRA, a computational aid for generating process explanations in nuclear astrophysics. The system operates in two stages, the first using knowledge of quantum theory to produce a set of legal reactions among elements, and the second searching for pathways of such reactions that explain the construction of some element from lighter ones. ASTRA has found apparently novel reactions that involve proton and neutron capture, as well as novel fusion reactions that produce neutrons and deuterium. The system has also generated reaction pathways for helium, carbon and oxygen that do not appear in the scientific literature. However, ASTRA also finds many other reaction pathways that are less interesting and that suggest priorities for future research.