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6.170 (or equivalent)



6 Engineering Design Points. Satisfies either the Computer Systems concentration or the Artificial Intelligence and Applications concentration.


There is no required textbook. However, readings will be assigned for every lecture, generally from research papers accessible on the Web.

Recommended Textbooks

Norman, D. A. The Design of Everyday Things. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1990. ISBN: 0385267746.
This little book is a classic work on usability, not just of computer interfaces but also of physical objects like doors, showers, and stoves. Full of great anecdotes, plus theory about how users form models in their heads and how users make errors. Belongs on every engineer's shelf.

Nielsen, J. Usability Engineering. Burlington, MA: Academic Press, 1994. ISBN: 0125184069.
Somewhat dated but still useful handbook for discount usability engineering, covering many of the evaluation techniques we'll be learning in this class.

Mullet, K., and D. Sano. Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication oriented techniques. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1994. ISBN: 0133033899.
A terrific guide to graphic design, chock full of examples, essential principles, and practical guidelines. Many programmers have a fear of graphic design. This book won't teach you everything -- it still pays to hire a designer! -- but it helps get over that fear and do a competent job of it yourself.

These Textbooks are Good References

Baecker, R. M., et al. Readings in Human-Computer Interaction: Toward the Year 2000. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 1995. ISBN: 1558602461.

Shneiderman, B. Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction. 4th ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 2004. ISBN: 0321197860.

Dix, A., et al. Human-Computer Interaction. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1998. ISBN: 0132398648.

Olsen, D. R. Developing User Interfaces. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 1998. ISBN: 1558604189.

Other Books We Like

Tufte, E. R. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 1983. ISBN: 0318029928.

Raskin, J. The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems. New York, NY: ACM Press, 2000. ISBN: 0201379376.

Johnson, J. GUI Bloopers: Don'ts and Do's for Software Developers and Web Designers. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufman, 2000. ISBN: 1558605827.

Card, S. K., T. Moran, and A. Newell. The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1983. ISBN: 0898598591.

Books about Statistics and Experiment Design

Gonick, L. Cartoon Guide to Statistics. New York, NY: Harper, 1994. ISBN: 0062731025.

Box, G. E. P., W. G. Hunter, and S. J. Hunter. Statistics for Experimenters: An Introduction to Design, Data Analysis, and Model Building. New York, NY: Wiley, 1978. ISBN: 0471093157.

Miller, R. G. Beyond Anova: Basics of Applied Statistics. New York, NY: Wiley, 1986. ISBN: 0471819220.


The largest contribution to your grade will be the course project (40%), in which you will work in small groups to design, implement, and evaluate a user interface.

Problem sets and homeworks will be assigned periodically, and will constitute 25% of your grade.

There will be two quizzes, given during class time, which together count for 30% of your grade. See the course calendar for the dates. There will be no final exam.

This is a graduate class, and we will be reading and discussing research papers. Preparation, attendance, and participation in class will also be a factor in your grade (5%)!

Course Project 40%
Problem Sets and Homeworks 25%
Two Quizzes 30%
Class Participation 5%

Collaboration Policy

You may freely discuss assignments with other people, but you are expected to be intellectually honest and give credit where credit is due. In particular, for the individual problem sets (PS1-7 and HW1-2), you should write your solutions entirely on your own; you should not share written materials with anyone else; and you should list all your collaborators (everyone you discussed the assignment with) on your hand-in.