Senior Project in HCI

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Topic: Software Interfaces and Human Behavior

Adviser: Charlie Peck


While this requires some additional refinement, I’ve settled on the general topic and hope to incorporate some of my interests from the other topics along the way.

I will study how interfaces affect interactions between humans and computers. There is a rich history in this area, both in academia and in history/current events. Charlie recommended the Apple design guidelines, an outstanding trove of insights about why components of a software or OS interface should be designed in a particular way. From my own research I see that human-computer interaction (HCI) contributes to choices about everything from Facebook privacy to nuclear meltdowns.

In a potential paper, I would introduce the history of some high-profile HCI choices before zooming in on a few particular factors (to be determined) for more careful analysis and software design. This is a new area of study to me, so which factors I choose in particular will be determined upon completion of further research.

For the software project, I will approach this from the perspective of optimizing the response time for a given interaction. I intend to create a simple application, likely web-based to make scale feasible, with two simple interfaces and a series of prescribed interactions to be done in a given order. I have considered using a few of our local datasets: Iceland data, 911 emergency call data, transportation data, and a few public datasets on key topics. My intention with the software is to focus on the HCI components, so my preference is to use the data environment I am already familiar with as the backend for the project.

Since the major concern with my and most projects is getting directly to the CS, I intend to focus in particular on these subdomains:

  • Human-Computer Interaction: Trivial from the description.
  • Software Engineering: Trivial from the need to design and implement the application.
  • Algorithms: Choosing the correct algorithm to optimize the interaction; evaluate the time data
  • Relational Databases: The backend data will be stored in a PostgreSQL database

In addition, this project draws on insights from several topics in the social sciences – behavioral economics, psychology, business – but I consider these topics as launch sites rather than journeys or landing sites.

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