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User interface design with matrix algebra.

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Thimbleby, H. (2004). User interface design with matrix algebra. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) 11(2), 181-236.

Available online at: http://tinyurl.com/agbpj

Original abstract: It is usually very hard, both for designers and users, to reason reliably about user interfaces. This article shows that ‘push button’ and ‘point and click’ user interfaces are algebraic structures. Users effectively do algebra when they interact, and therefore we can be precise about some important design issues and issues of usability. Matrix algebra, in particular, is useful for explicit calculation and for proof of various user interface properties.With matrix algebra, we are able to undertake with ease unusally thorough reviews of real user interfaces: this article examines a mobile phone, a handheld calculator and a digital multimeter as case studies, and draws general conclusions about the approach and its relevance to design.

Rubric for the reading group: Everyone attending is expected to read the paper in advance. Please bring a copy with you, preferably annotated with interesting reflections. The format of discussion will be a brief invited introduction/critique by two members of the group, followed by general discussion and informal mixing.

This talk is part of the Crucible/Microsoft HCI Reading Group series.

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