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School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering

Previous Seminars


Seminar Details:

Friday 2nd December 2016: Andy MacFarlane (City University)

Title: "Designing and Evaluating an Image Search Retrieval Interface for Creative Professionals: Two Studies"


The amount of images available online has increased significantly but the choices offered by image retrieval systems have not kept pace, especially those targeted at creative professionals who need to search for images as part of their work task. We describe the design of a ‘high density’ image search interface and two studies that were undertaken to evaluate the design. The first study followed an experimental set-up and quantitatively compared the use by non-experts of a high density interface with a traditional image search interface; the second study involved a qualitative approach with creative professionals who gave feedback on the high density interface design. Our results show that creative professional viewed the interface favourably precisely because they were able to get a quick overview. Our work holds important lessons for the design of image search interfaces and how to evaluate them.

About the speaker:

Andy is a Reader in the Department of Computer Science at City University, and is a member of the Centre for HCI Design. He got his PhD in Information Science from the same University under the supervision of Prof Robertson and Dr J.A. McCann (now at Imperial College London). His research interests currently focus on a number of areas including disabilities and Information Retrieval (dyslexia in particular), Image Retrieval, AI techniques for Information Retrieval and Filtering, and Open Source Software Development.

Friday 25th November 2016: Dominic Pates (City University)

Title: "Towards Wireless Collaboration"


Most university staff and students bring their own mobile digital devices into the learning space. Typically, the physical infrastructure doesn't enable either group to easily make use of the affordances of such devices beyond connecting to available wifi networks. This can result in effects such as usage in group contexts being profoundly personal rather than social, or the raising of barriers to passing around content at the point of engagement with it. Mobile devices therefore tend not to be used collaboratively in the face-to-face context.

In this seminar, I will present investigations conducted so far at City towards bringing wireless collaboration technologies to the university's learning spaces, and the challenges faced in doing so. Participants will have an opportunity to try out a technology currently being piloted in SMCSE Civil Engineering that facilitates wireless projection of an iPad in undergraduate teaching labs, and will be invited to contribute to possible use cases for such technologies.

About the speaker:

Dom is an Educational Technologist with City's Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) department, where he supports SMCSE academics in their pedagogical uses of educational technologies and contributes to institutional projects around learning spaces. He has presented a case study on City's work in learning spaces innovations at an international conference and in a peer-reviewed journal, and has been in pursuit of a wireless collaboration solution for City since joining in 2014. Other conference or event topics presented on have included mobile learning, incorporating blogs into teaching, and use of Creative Commons in the classroom. He gained an MA in Digital Media from Sussex University in 2013, with a dissertation titled '198 Ways to Keep the Internet Open'. Prior to working in educational technology, he spent several years as both an English language and an IT teacher, and has taught in both the UK and in Japan.

Friday 28th October 2016: Claire Llewellyn (University of Edinburgh)

Title: "If Brexit Means Brexit, What Does #brexit Mean?"


In reference to the UK-EU referendum Theresa May has frequently stated that ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Here we look at how the UK-EU referendum has been discussed within the social media site Twitter and in particular how the use of #brexit has changed over time.

In general, while interesting insights can be generated using social media data, the limitations of these non-representative and often partial data sources are increasingly being recognized. Here we introduce a unique longitudinal research design, employing multiple collection methods, developed for the study of Twitter responses.

Hashtag use is not static; groups discussing a specific topic can change the hashtags they use and the meaning of an individual hashtag can change over time. When specific groups use hashtags it is not uncommon for an opposing group to appropriate the hashtags and use them in a subversive way. We are therefore investigating how the use of #brexit has changed over the twelve months between September 2015 and August 2016.

About the speaker:

Clare Llewellyn is a researcher within the Neuropolitics Research Lab of the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. In this work she is analysing the social media reaction to the 2016 UK-EU referendum.

She is also a PhD student at the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh studying user generated content on the internet. This includes how to analyse and filter content in order to present useful and appropriate information. In general her interests are in digital libraries, open data, computational linguistics, text analysis, data and text mining. She previously worked as part of the Advance Technical Research group at JSTOR, an online journal archive, and as part of the digital library research group at the University of Liverpool.

Friday 21st October 2016: Sander Münster (Dresden University of Technology)

Title: "Using Digital 3D Reconstruction Methods for Visual Humanities Research and Education"


Digital visual humanities subsume a wide scope of research approaches dealing with the investigation of complex visual information to answer research interests from humanities by using ICT as, for example, digital 3D reconstruction methods. Technological backgrounds, project opportunities, as well as methodological considerations for application are widely discussed in literature. In contrast, it is a still ongoing challenge will be to disseminate these techniques within a wider scientific community and establish them in disciplines’ academic cultures. With this background, many research activities at my department during the last years are proposed to support that dissemination process. This is done by (1) investigating scenarios and practices for an employment of digital visualization methods and approaches for scientific research, (2) identifying requirements and recommendations for digital tools, and (3) developing and evaluating how to learn and teach the use of digital visualization methods and, in particular, digital 3D reconstruction techniques in visual humanities. Within the seminar I’ll present and discuss some preliminary results as well as research perspectives emerging from our former and ongoing research projects. Moreover, I would be happy to learn about your research subjects within a brief interactive workshop.

About the speaker:

Sander Münster is Head of the Department of Media Design and Media Production in the Media Center of Dresden University of Technology.

Friday 7th October 2016: Adrian Bussone (City University)

Title: "It Feels Like I'm Managing Myself: HIV+ People Tracking Their Own Personal Health Information"


Nearly 37 million people live with HIV globally and recent advances in medicine have transformed HIV to a chronic disease, if managed.

Previous research in Personal Health Informatics has investigated how people self-manage other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, by tracking and reflecting on their health information but there is little knowledge of how people do so for complex and socially stigmatized diseases like HIV. A better understanding of their specialized needs could lead to the development of more appropriate tools to self-manage their condition. Our paper introduces an iterative process model of Personal Health Informatics. We then describe the results of an empirical study involving HIV+ adults aimed at understanding their issues, concerns and actions in each of the stages of this process model. We provide implications for the design of personal informatics tools and open research directions that can lead to better self-management for people living with HIV.

Friday 27th May 2016

Title: "Fixing the Number Entry Problem: From Human to Design"


Number entry is a pervasive task, from entering phone numbers to bidding for items on eBay. Despite the fact we do this task daily, we still make errors. Usually we can recover from this and it becomes nothing more than a frustration, but larger, more catastrophic errors are due to the same causes. In this seminar I will analyse the entire (seemingly tiny) process of number entry, and present my research exploring the causes and possible solutions for number entry. If nothing else, you’ll learn something strange about calculators and telephones.


Sarah is a research and teaching fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London where she teaches web programming, databases and HCI related subjects. Recent research has involved working on technology within immersive theatre performances, specifically looking at haptic and multi modal interactions. Her PhD and subsequent post doctoral work has focussed on understanding the task of number entry, both from a design and cognitive perspective. This has been largely motivated by problems within the medical domain where number entry error can, and does, cause serious harm to patients.

Friday 27th May 2016

Title: "Personal Health Informatics"


HIV affects nearly 37 million people worldwide, but recent advances in medicine have changed the lives of those living with this disease so that they can now expect to live a normal life span, if properly managed. Personal Health Informatics – the act of tracking and reflecting on personal health information – has been shown to help people living with other chronic diseases self-manage their condition. However, researchers have largely focused on developing tools to support the capture of information, particularly paying attention to people living with less complex and stigmatized diseases than HIV.  This presentation will provide a background on Personal Informatics, introduce a process model for PI, and then describe the results of a qualitative research study focused on the needs and actions of HIV+ adults in the Personal Health Informatics process are detailed.

Friday 20th May 2016

Title: "Investigating Patent Examination Using Eye-Tracking"


Searching for information in the digital domain can be a daunting task. The problems faced by information seekers have evolved through the years due to digitisation and communication technology advancements. We no longer have the problem of locating enough information, but suffer from the opposite problem of information overload; namely, having too much information to have to go through. One domain which requires particular attention to the way information seekers triage documents is that of patent searching in which successful triage is task and business critical. We read daily of the billions of pounds in law suits between large companies due to patent infringement. So the questions arise: What is going on? How do these patents come to be? In this talk we will investigate to a high level of granularity, how patent applications are examined to reveal some interesting, albeit worrying, findings.

About the speaker:

I am Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Computer Science at the School of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Wolverhampton, UK. I also hold an honorary Fellowship at the Cyprus Interaction lab, Cyprus University of Technology. My main area of research lies in Information Interaction, HCI and Digital Libraries, focusing on Information Seeking, Information Architecture and User Experience, with a special interest on user interfaces. I have a computer science background, which I combine with my digital library research to investigate how systems can be enhanced by state of the art technologies. I have published work in international journals and conferences which have been submitted to the UK REF exercise, taken part in EU funded as well as national funded projects, edited books and proceedings and successfully secured personal EU and national funding, based on proposals I have written. I am currently writing proposals for the Horizon 2020 programme among other EU initiatives.

I have extensive experience in user study design and facilitation using cutting edge technologies, eliciting user requirements and performing systems evaluation, both within industry and academia. I also have applied development experience, with one of my mobile applications winning the digital championship social impact award and several other applications I managed being commercialised. Some of the entities I collaborate with or worked for on projects include the European Patent Office, Microsoft, Nokia, Department for Education UK, Cyprus Broadcasting Channel and the Federal Department of Antiquities.

Wednesday 20th April 2016

Title: "User Trust in Intelligent Systems"


Intelligent systems, such as email spam filters, recommender systems and smart homes, are designed to assist users in a range of tasks. They learn from user’s input and modify their behavior accordingly to better suit the needs of users. Issues of trust arise, as intelligent systems typically violate fundamental usability principles. Trust is a significant factor in the adoption of new systems. Existing research considers trust as a single quantitative post-task measure. However, trust is a multi-faceted and dynamic attitude of the user towards the system and changes over time with repeated interactions.

The aim of Daniel’s PhD is to gain a greater comprehension of how and why user trust in intelligent systems changes over time, devising an approach to measure this and understanding the mechanisms that can be used to engender trust. In his transfer seminar, Daniel will report a case study, in which participants were presented with an intelligent system that either offered explanations for its actions or did not. This study employed a combination of repeated quantitative and qualitative measures to examine how trust, and the factors of trust, in an intelligent system evolved over time.

Friday 15th April 2016: Jennifer Horkoff (Cass Business School)

Title: "Support for Creativity and Reasoning in Early Requirements Engineering"


The discovery of system requirements in the early stages of Software Engineering comes with a series of challenges: how to understand, reason, and select over a space of possible requirements? How to manage and reason over requirements uncertainty? How to ensure that the requirement space is sufficiently creative, supporting system and business innovation? In this talk, I summarize past and current efforts to address these questions, focusing on methods and tools for interactive reasoning and creativity support for Early Requirements Engineering. I outline future work, including an emphasis on empirical evaluation.

About the speaker:

Dr. Jennifer Horkoff is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Cass Business School, City University, London. She is the holder of a two-year Marie Sklodowska Curie Intra-European Fellowships for career development (IEF), working under the supervision of Prof. Neil Maiden. She is also a holder of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship. Jennifer received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Prof. Eric Yu. She spent 2.5 years at the University of Trento, Italy, as part of the Lucretius: Foundations for Software Evolution project, working with Prof. John Mylopoulos and colleagues. She has been an author or co-author of more than 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals, conferences, or workshops.

Her research interests lie in enhancing the use of conceptual modeling for requirements engineering and business analysis, focusing on creativity, interactive analysis, uncertainty, scalability, and the application of RE-inspired conceptual modeling to business intelligence. Jennifer is on the program committee of several international conferences, including RE, REFSQ, and CAiSE, has been on the organizing committee of RE, REFSQ, and PoEM, and has been a (co-)organizer of several workshops, including iStar, RIGiM, and MReBA.

Friday 15th April 2016

Title: "Crossed Wires: Investigating the Problems of End-User Developers in a Physical Computing Task"


This talk will preview the 20-minute presentation at CHI 2016, based on the above paper by Tracey Booth, Simone Stumpf, Jon Bird, Sara Jones. Considerable research has focused on the problems that end users face when programming software, in order to help them overcome their difficulties, but there is little research into the problems that arise in physical computing when end users construct circuits and program them. In an empirical study, we observed end-user developers as they connected a temperature sensor to an Arduino microcontroller and visualized its readings using LEDs. We investigated how many problems participants encountered, the problem locations, and whether they were overcome. We show that most fatal faults were due to incorrect circuit construction, and that often problems were wrongly diagnosed as program bugs. Whereas there are development environments that help end users create and debug software, there is currently little analogous support for physical computing tasks. Our work is a first step towards building appropriate tools that support end-user developers in overcoming obstacles when constructing physical computing artifacts.


Seminar Details:

Friday 4th December 2015: Weng-Keen Wong (Oregon State University)

Title: "Accounting for Observer Variability in Citizen Science Biodiversity Monitoring Projects"


Citizen Science is a paradigm in which volunteers from the general public participate in scientific studies. This paradigm is especially useful if the scope of the study is too broad to be performed by a limited number of trained scientists. Although citizen scientists can contribute large quantities of data to these studies, data quality is often a concern due to variability in the skills of volunteers.

The emergence of citizen science biodiversity monitoring projects, such as eBird and eButterfly, have enabled exciting directions in ecological research that were not previously possible. In these biodiversity monitoring projects, citizen scientists act as a large network of human sensors, recording observations of species to a centralized database, where they are used for ecological research such as species distribution modelling and reserve design.

This talk will first describe the eBird project, which is one of the largest and most successful citizen science projects in existence. I will then describe how species accumulation curves can be used as a data-driven measurement of participant ability. Finally, I will show how accounting for observer variability can improve predictive models built from citizen science data.

About the speaker:

Weng-Keen Wong is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Oregon State University. He is currently a sabbatical visitor at the University of Edinburgh. He received his Ph.D. (2004) and M.S. (2001) in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and his B.Sc. (1997) from the University of British Columbia. After completing his Ph.D, he was a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh. In 2005, he joined Oregon State University as an Assistant Professor. His current research areas are in data mining and machine learning, with specific interests in anomaly detection, time series classification and human-in-the-loop learning.

Friday 20th November 2015

Title: "Observing Serendipity in Digital Information Environments"


We often interact with digital information environments to find useful information. But sometimes useful information finds us unexpectedly, propelling us in new and exciting directions. We might come across information serendipitously when looking for information on something else, or when we are not looking for anything in particular. In previous studies, people have self-reported that they come across information serendipitously. However, there has been limited success in directly observing people doing so. To see if we could have more success, we conducted naturalistic observations of 45 users interacting with different types of digital information environments. Without priming them about serendipity, we asked the users to conduct self-chosen naturalistic information tasks, which varied from broad tasks such as browsing online news to narrow tasks such as finding a particular product to buy. We noted several examples where users either 1) stated they were looking for information on a particular topic or product and unexpectedly found useful/potentially useful information about something else or 2) unexpectedly found useful/potentially useful information when not looking for anything in particular. Our findings suggest that, with a carefully-considered approach, serendipity-related information interaction behaviour can be directly observed. Direct observation allows designers of digital information environments to better understand this behaviour and use this understanding to reason about ways of designing new or improving existing support for serendipity.