Greg Abowd

Gregory Abowd to give Distinguished Lecture

Title: Computing and Autism: How a real problem can drive research in a different field
Location: Room 312-313 Margam Building
Date and Time: Thursday November 29th 2012. 4pm


Since 2002, I have targeted much of my research to challenges relating to autism. While this started and is continually fueled by a very personal motivation, I have been struck by how many interesting computing problems have surfaced in the context of trying to solve a real problem relating to autism. In this talk, I will give an overview of a variety of problem-driven challenges I and my collaborators have addressed and how in many cases the problem has opened up a rich computing problem to explore.


Gregory Abowd is a Regents' and Distinguished Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Abowd leads a research group interested in human-centered applications of mobile and ubiquitous computing technologies, with an emphasis on home and health. He established the Aware Home Research Initiative at Georgia Tech in the late 1990's and has also researched applications of technology in the classroom. He was a leader in establishing the importance of computing technology to address a variety of challenges linked to autism, and has published widely on this topic and assisted in the development of commercial solutions. In 2008, he established the Atlanta Autism Consortium to create a stronger community of researchers, educators, clinicians and advocates linked to autism. He is an elected member of the ACM SIGCHI Academy and is an ACM Fellow. In 2009, he was awarded the ACM Eugene Lawler Humanitarian Award for his research efforts.

Alan Dix

Alan Dix to Give Research Semimar

Title: Treading out Technology: theory meets praxis during a thousand mile walk round Wales
Location: Robert Recorde Room
Date and Time: Monday November 19th 2012. 4pm


Next year I will be walking around Wales following the Wales Coast Path that opened this year and Offa's Dyke long distance path up the borders. This is partly a personal journey reconnecting with the country of my childhood, but also a technological journey investigating the IT needs of the walker and the local communities through which I pass. Some of this will be mundane technologically speaking, but hopefully transformative in practice. However, I also expect to be pushed to the limits cartographically and theoretically. In particular, aspects of Semantic Web and the odd Galois Connection will be essential parts of the need to synchronise data between heterogeneous sources and following disconnection.


Alan Dix is a Professor in the School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, and Senior Researcher at Talis, Birmingham, and when not in Birmingham or travelling elsewhere, lives on Tiree, a small Hebridean island. He is the son of a carpenter, wears sandals and has long hair and a beard, but thereafter all pretensions to saintliness end. Alan's research interests are varied and eclectic, although mathematics was (and is!) his first love the majority of his work is focused around the area of human-computer interaction - what happens when people use technology and how to design technology for people. He is the author of one of the key international textbooks in the area as well as other books and over 350 academic papers. Much of his career has been in academia, but in addition he has spent time in agricultural engineering research, local government IT, submarine design and dot.comstart-ups. With a colleague at Lancaster University he invented technology to make LEDs individually controllable; this is being released commercially and is expected to transform cityscapes across the world.

Gary Marsden

Gary Marsden to Give Research Semimar

Title: From Co-Design to Co-Developer; Creating Technology for the Developing World
Location: Robert Recorde Room
Date and Time: Monday September 17th 2012. 1.30pm




Since 1999, Professor Gary Marsden has been an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His research interests are in the field of mobile interaction design. Since moving to Africa, his work has been more focused on the application of digital and mobile technologies within the developing world. Professor Marsden is a director with the Centre in ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) and the HPI Research School in ICT4D, an initiative between the department of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town and the Hasso Plattner Institut in Postdam, Germany. It is an ideal place to design, create and test ICT solutions optimized for the African continent. Professor Marsden also edits the "Under Development" column in interactions magazine.

Ian Witten

Ian Witten to Give Research Semimar

Title: Semantic document representation: do it with Wikification
Location: Callaghan Lecture Theature
Date and Time: Thursday June 28th 2012. 2pm


Wikipedia is a goldmine of information. Each article describes a single concept, and together they constitute a vast investment of manual effort and judgment. "Wikification" is the process of automatically augmenting a plain-text document with hyperlinks to Wikipedia articles. This involves associating phrases in the document with concepts, disambiguating them, and selecting the most pertinent. All three processes can be addressed by exploiting Wikipedia as a source of data. For the first, link anchor text illustrates how concepts are described in running text. For the second and third, Wikipedia provides millions of examples that can be used to prime machine-learned algorithms for disambiguation and selection respectively Wikification produces a semantic representation of any document in terms of concepts. We apply this to (a) select index terms for scientific documents, and (b) determine the similarity of two documents, in both cases outperforming humans in terms of agreement with human judgment. We also apply it to document clustering and classification algorithms, and to produce back of the book indexes, improving on the state of the art in each case. The Wikipedia Miner toolkit is open source and runs quickly (using Hadoop to parallelize where appropriate).


Ian H. Witten is a professor of computer science at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. He directs the New Zealand Digital Library research project. His research interests include information retrieval, machine learning, text compression, and programming by demonstration. He received an MA in Mathematics from Cambridge University, England; an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, Canada; and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Essex University, England. He is a fellow of the ACM and of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published widely on digital libraries, machine learning, text compression, hypertext, speech synthesis and signal processing, and computer typography. He has written several books, the latest being Managing Gigabytes (1999) and Data Mining (2000), both from Morgan Kaufmann.

Jenny Preece

Jenny Preece to Give Research Semimar

Title: Motivating citizens to contribute biodiversity data to citizen science projects: Melding human and computational skills
Location: Wallace Lecture Theatre
Date and Time: Wednesday June 13th 2012. 2pm


Online citizen science projects engage volunteers in collecting, analyzing, and curating scientific data. Existing projects have demonstrated the value of involving volunteers to collect data, but few projects have reached the full potential of volunteers and scientists working together. Understanding the shared and unique motivations of these two groups can help designers establish the technical and social infrastructures needed to promote effective partnerships.

In this talk I will present findings from several studies in which we examined: user traffic in the Encylopedia of Life (; motivational factors affecting participation in ecological citizen science projects; the role of a game in checking the accuracy of curating biodiversity data, and a game for motivating contributions from the field.

We found that volunteers are motivated by a complex framework of factors that dynamically change throughout their cycle of work on scientific projects; this motivational framework is strongly affected by personal interests as well as external factors such as attribution and acknowledgment. Identifying the pivotal points of motivational shift and addressing them in the design of citizen-science systems will facilitate improved collaboration between scientists and volunteers.


Jennifer Preece is Professor and Dean in the College of Information Studies - Maryland's iSchool - at the University of Maryland. Jenny`s research focuses at the intersection of information, community and technology. She is particularly interested in community participation on- and off-line. She has researched ways to support empathy and social support online, patterns of online participation, motivation for participating, and reasons why people don`t participate. Jenny is widely published. Jenny was author of one of the first books on online communities, Online Communities: Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability (2000) and she is a coauthor of Interaction Design: Beyond Human Computer Interaction (2002, 2007, 2011). Both books are published by John Wiley & Sons. When not working Jenny enjoys biking, hiking, skiing, and watching wildlife.

Ben Shneiderman

Ben Shneiderman to give Distinguished Lecture

Title: Information Visualization for Knowledge Discovery
Location: Taliesin Arts Centre
Date and Time: Monday June 11th 2012. 4pm
Introduction by: Professor. Richard B. Davies, Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University


Interactive information visualization tools provide researchers with remarkable capabilities to support discovery. These telescopes for high-dimensional data combine powerful statistical methods with user-controlled interfaces. Users can begin with an overview, zoom in on areas of interest, filter out unwanted items, and then click for details-on-demand. With careful design and efficient algorithms, the dynamic queries approach to data exploration can provide 100msec updates even for million-item visualizations that can represent billion-record databases.

This talk reviews the growing commercial success stories such as, and, plus emerging products such as and will be covered. The central theme is the integration of statistics with visualization as applied for time series data such as (, temporal event sequences such as electronic health records ( and, and social network data ( and

Check out the event poster.


Ben Shneiderman is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM, and IEEE, and a Member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Ben is the co-author with Catherine Plaisant of Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (5th ed., 2010). With Stu Card and Jock Mackinlay, he co-authored Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think (1999). With Ben Bederson he co-authored The Craft of Information Visualization (2003). His book Leonardo's Laptop appeared in October 2002 (MIT Press) and won the IEEE book award for Distinguished Literary Contribution. His latest book, with Derek Hansen and Marc Smith, is Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL (, 2010).