Research


h-index = 34 (as at 04/02/17)

Current Research Projects

Effectiveness of graph layout algorithms: This project investigates the effectiveness (from a human usability point of view) of automatic graph layout algorithms, which are usually valued for their computational efficiency, or the extent to which they conform to common aesthetic criteria (e.g.: minimising the number of edge crossings, maximising symmetrical displays).

Extended graph layout algorithms: Following on from the preliminary work on investigating the common layout algorithms, this project has extended to addressed dynamic layout algorithms, hierarchical, clustered and difference graph drawings, curved edges and clustering.

Evaluation methods: I am interested in different evaluation methods, especially (but not exclusively) for visualisation and interfaces. I have written a book on this topic, have given several tutorials, and I gave an invited talk ("User evaluation: Why?") at the 12th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Data Mining (Bordeaux, 2012).

Sketched graph drawings: Using SketchNode, a tablet-based system for sketching graphs designed by Beryl Plimmer, this project investigates the way in which users draw graphs, and the aesthetics that user-generated drawings conform to.

Aesthetic visualisation: I am interested in how the visual style of an interface may affect the user experience, most particularly with respect to task performance. With the help of several students in recent years, I have conducted experiments that measure task performance in relation to different 'visual aesthetics', focussing on the spatial layout of objects, but also looking at colour, font and shape.

Prospective PhD students

I welcome applications from prospective PhD students who are interested in the following areas: empirical studies in HCI (particularly in visualisation), aesthetic interface design, diagram layout and aesthetics, technology to support contributing student pedagogies.

Previous Research Projects

Computer Science Education (Higher Education): This action learning project investigated the use of novel learning activities that encourage students to accept the fact that there may be multiple solutions to a single problem, and that their own solutions (and those of their peers) can contribute to their learning.

Usability of Software Engineering diagrams and presentation: This project is an extension of the Effectiveness of Graph Layout Algorithms project, where the graphs under consideration are those used in software engineering applications (for example, UML diagrams, entity-relationship diagrams). Usability studies are used to establish the usefulness (from a human comprehension perspective) of both the notation and layout of these diagrams.

Multimedia models: This project used ideas and terminology from the field of semiotics to define an unambiguous model of multimedia communication (along the dimensions of sign, syntax and modality), which has been empirically evaluated for its understandability.

Graduated Postgraduate Students

The aesthetics of interface layout (Carolyn Salimun): Carolyn iinvestigated different methods of interface design, based on formulae that measure the extent of different layout aesthetic principles (e.g. symmetry, regularity) in an interface. She ran several experiments looking at participants' performance, preferences and processes in performing a task.

Usability of Grammar Formalisms for free and fixed-word order languages (Mark Pedersen, The University of Queensland): Mark investigated different grammar formalisms (DG, PSG and LFG) for the suitability for representing free-word order in Hindi and English. Usability studies were conducted to determine the relative effectiveness of these grammar formalisms.

Electronic Blocks (Peta Wyeth, The University of Queensland): Peta defined and implemented electronic blocks suitable for children between the ages of 3 and 8 which enable a simple form of programming using input, output and logic blocks. The use of these blocks was evaluated with pre-school and primary school children.

My Collaborators


Daniel Archambault
Swansea University

Stephen G. Kobourov
University of Arizona

Kimbal Marriott
Monash University

John Hamer
University of Glasgow