Homework Assignment 6

Systems that Adapt to their Users


Software Systems

Spring Semester 2001


While reading the registration brochure for an upcoming conference, I ran across the descriptions of the conference's tutorials. A tutorial is a "class" that attendees pay for and then attend. Usually, tutorials happen the day or two before the conference starts, with each tutorial lasting either half a day or all day. Conference registrants use tutorials as a way to learn new topics or to stay abreast of current research.

One of the tutorials at this conference is called "Systems that Adapt to their Users". Many of the issues that this tutorial will address are ones that you have studied this semester, because they depend so closely on how the user interacts with the system. I think that exploring this topic is a great way for you to wind down your study of human-computer interfaces.

The description of the tutorial says:

Interactive systems that adapt to their users have been gaining rapidly in practical importance, for example in the areas of e-commerce and web-based information access. Relevant terms include personalization, personal assistants, adaptive interfaces, user modeling, student modeling. ...

Although user-adaptive systems take many different forms, there are a number of questions that must be addressed in the design of any such system:

  1. What functions are to be served by the adaptation?

  2. What properties of the user should be modeled?

  3. What input data about the user should be obtained, and how?

  4. What techniques should be employed to make inferences about the user?

  5. ...

  6. What empirical studies should be conducted?

With the exception of #4, you should have something interesting things to say about all of these issues!


Think about what an adaptive user interface might do and how it might look. Base your thinking on your study of Shneiderman's text, your reading of outside materials for class, our discussions in class, and your personal experience as a user of computer systems. Consider, too, whether the benefit of adaptive user interfaces would outweigh their costs (in terms of both research and development).

Then write a 4-5 page paper that addresses the following issues:

  1. What might an adaptive user interface might do that differs from what "regular" interfaces do? What user actions might it watch for and adapt to?

  2. What might an adaptive user interface look like?

  3. How might the HCI community proceed in trying to make the idea of adaptive user interfaces a reality?

  4. Would adaptive user interfaces be worth the effort?

Do this assignment as an individual. You may certainly discuss the ideas with other students and professors, but write your own paper.

Prepare a paper that presents your analysis of the paper in a professional manner, both in style and substance.


Deliver one copy of your paper to the department secretary by 4:00 PM on Friday, April 27.

[ 171 Syllabus | 171 Class Sessions | 171 Homework | 171 Exams ]

Eugene Wallingford ==== wallingf@cs.uni.edu ==== April 17, 2001