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Glossary » Fields of Study

artificial intelligence

“AI”; a field of study which examines how to perform high-level thinking on computers. Artificial intelligence research is typically associated with domains such as speech synthesis and recognition, language translation, image recognition, and strategy and planning. AI research is also…

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cognitive engineering; the study of human mental abilities, their limitations, and the application of this in design.

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cognitive psychology

a branch of psychology whose focus on phenomena such as learning, memory, perception, and problem-solving lends itself well to applications in human-computer interaction.

Cognitive psychology is often characterized by the common use of experimental research methods and formal mathematical or…

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computer-supported cooperative work. The field of study that examines how technology affects group interaction, and how technology can best be designed and built to facilitate group work.

Despite the name, this field of study doesn’t restrict itself to issues of…

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a design tradition preceding human-computer interaction and strongly related. Ergonomics is often used relatively synonymously with “human factors”. It studies how to design human-machine systems with a concern for human needs, especially focused on work environments, efficiency, and safety. The…

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any type of software designed for groups and for communication, including email, videoconferencing, workflow, chat, and collaborative editing systems.

This technology may be used to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, solve problems, compete, or negotiate. While traditional technologies such as the telephone…

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human-computer interaction. The study of how people work with computers and how computers can be designed to help people effectively use them.

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human anthropometry

anthropometrics; the measurement of the physical characteristics of humans, particularly length and weight measures, used for industrial design, especially the design of furniture, vehicles, and workspaces. In the domain of computer use, such measurements apply primarily in the design of…

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human factors

the field that studies the role of humans in human-machine systems and how systems can be designed to work well with people, particularly with regard to safety and efficiency. Traditionally this field was from an engineering and industrial design perspective…

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human-computer interaction

a diverse scientific and applied field where the focus is on how people use computers and how computers can be designed to help people use them more effectively.

The subject is studied from a wide variety of perspectives from many…

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industrial design

the field that designs physical artifacts such as consumer electronics (TVs, VCRs, stereos), toys, computers, and appliances. Industrial design focuses on the physical form and interactive properties as opposed to the electronic functioning of the system. In computer design, in…

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information architecture

the organization of information; the field which studies how to organize information most effectively to help people find and use the information. For instance, how should websites be organized? What is the best way to design website navigation? How should…

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information design

a broad term for the design tasks of deciding how to structure, select, and present information (inclusive of information architecture, information visualization, and information retrieval).

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information filtering

selecting subsets of information to deliver to the user, based on user preferences, relevance of the information, and past information usage. Information filtering is quite similar to the information retrieval field, except that information is viewed as being sent to…

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information retrieval

the field of study that examines how people find information and how tools can be constructed (such as search engines and catalogs) to help people find information. Studies examine how the organization of information affects its retrieval, the types of…

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information visualization

the study of how to effectively present information visually. Much of the work in this field focuses on creating innovative graphical displays for complicated datasets, such as census results, scientific data, and databases. An example problem would be deciding how…

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instructional design

the design of an educational system, focusing on how people learn and how learning can be facilitated. An instructional designer will set educational objectives for the system and design the interaction to avoid straying from those objectives. A wide variety…

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interaction design

the design of how a user communicates, or interacts, with a computer. Interaction designers focus on the flow of interaction, the dialog between person and computer, how input relates to output, stimulus-response compatibility, and feedback mechanisms.

This is in contrast…

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an approach to ergonomics that emphasizes a broad system view of design, examining organizational environments, culture, history, and work goals very broadly defined.

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an approach to ergonomics that emphasizes the examination at a detailed level of the interface between person and machine as opposed to external factors.

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OOBE; the interactions and first impressions a user has with technology when first opening the box it comes in and installing it, as opposed to the point-of-sale experience or the interaction experience of an expert user.

The out-of-box experience affects…

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psychology of programming

PoP; the study of how programmers create software, including such topics as learning a programming language, planning a program, how language features affect coding time and accuracy, and how programmers isolate and repair bugs.

In addition to understanding basic principles…

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a discipline of psychology that measures the response characteristics of human perception in a method parallel to measuring the response characteristics of physical materials. The prototypical examples are human perception of the intensity of light and sound. People report the…

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rehabilitation engineering

the field that explores the design of assistive devices for the disabled and customizes those devices for individual needs.

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the study of signs and symbols and their use in communicating meaning, especially useful in analyzing the use of icons in software, but also appropriate to the analysis of how screen design as a whole communicates, and to how users…

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