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Human-computer Interaction: New Book Offers Perspective and Systematic Approach

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Humans are interacting more and more with technology as it advances through time. Thanks to research that attempts to formally represent a design space, individuals are able to understand the structure of computational interactions and find solutions using desirable properties.

Computer Science Professor Xiaojun Bi
Computer Science Professor Xiaojun Bi (photo by Gary Haireti)

Computer Science Professor Xiaojun Bi is one of four co-editors and a co-author of the newly released book, Computational Interaction. This book provides a fresh perspective on the way humans and computers interact with one-another, along with presenting a new systematic engineering approach to the design of user interfaces.

“It was really a pleasure to help write this book,” said Bi. “My hope is that students and teachers alike will learn about everything from layout optimization to economic models of interaction and more.”

Professor Bi’s main section in the book, “Soft Keyboard Performance Optimization” introduces the challenges, methodologies and results of keyboard performance optimization to the readers. By using the Metropolis random walk algorithm and Pareto multi-objective optimization method, they optimized the keyboard layout and a soft keyboard decoder. As the chapter introduction states, “The optimization led to layouts that shorten finger travel distance and improve the input speed as well as accuracy over the Qwerty layout, and a soft keyboard decoder with improved correction and completion ability.”

In discussing soft keyboard performance optimization, Bi covers layout optimization for tap typing, then progresses to the same for gesture typing before moving on to decoding algorithm optimization. Bi also discusses the results of each of his optimization methods, along with the results. Finally, he talks about future work that can be done in this field — something he is quite proud of and excited to share with Stony Brook students.

Bi worked on the book with co-authors and editors Antti Oulasvirta, Aalto University; Per Ola Kristensson, University of Cambridge; and Andrew Howes, University of Birmingham. It is essential reading for students and researchers interested in exploring a range of computational interaction strategies and techniques.

About the Researcher
Xiaojun Bi is an assistant professor in Stony Brook University’s Department of Computer Science, which is part of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. His research lies in human computer interaction, with a focus on computational interaction, especially on Post-PC computing devices. He is a two-time Google Faculty Research Award winner (2016 and 2017), and won the ACM CHI Honorable Mention Award three times in the past four years (2015, 2017 and 2018). He won in 2018 for his paper that outlined the design, decoding algorithm and implementation for WrisText, a system that allows users to enter text on smartwatches via wrist gestures. He was also the recipient of the 2013 Google Most Influential Paper Award. Before coming to Stony Brook, he was a research scientist at Google. This spring Bi is teaching CSE 594-Advanced Topics in Human Computer Interaction.

Joseph Wolkin

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