Software engineering and pattern recognition in HCI

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The term software engineering first appeared in the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference and was meant to provoke thought regarding the current "software crisis" at the time.[2] Since then, it has continued as a profession and field of study dedicated to creating software that is of higher quality, more affordable, maintainable, and quicker to build. Since the field is still relatively young compared to its sister fields of engineering, there is still much work and debate around what software engineering actually is, and if it deserves the title engineering.

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Software engineering and pattern  recognition in HCI


Software engineering is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software, and the study of these approaches; that is, the application of engineering to software.

The term software engineering first appeared in the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference and was meant to provoke thought regarding the current "software crisis" at the time.[2] Since then, it has continued as a profession and field of study dedicated to creating software that is of higher quality, more affordable, maintainable, and quicker to build. Since the field is still relatively young compared to its sister fields of engineering, there is still much work and debate around what software engineering actually is, and if it deserves the title engineering. It has grown organically out of the limitations of viewing software as just programming. Software development is a term sometimes preferred by practitioners[who?in the industry who view software engineering as too heavy-handed and constrictive to the malleable process of creating software. Yet, in spite of its youth as a profession, the field's future looks bright as Money Magazine and rated software engineering as the best job in America in 2006.

History of software engineering

When the modern digital computer first appeared in 1941 the instructions to make it operate were wired into the machine. Practitioners quickly realized that this design was not flexible and came up with the "stored program architecture" or von Neumann architecture. Thus the first division between "hardware" and "software" began with abstraction being used to deal with the complexity of computing.

Programming languages started to appear in the 1950s and this was also another major step in abstraction. Major languages such as Fortran, Algol, and Cobol were released in the late 1950s to deal with scientific, algorithmic, and business problems respectively. E. W. Dijsktra wrote his seminal paper, "Go To Statement Considered Harmful", [4] in 1968 and David Parnas introduced the key concept of modularity and information hiding in 1972[5] to help programmers deal with the ever increasing complexity of software systems. A software system for managing the hardware called an operating system was also introduced, most notably byUnix in 1969. In 1967, the Simula language introduced the object-oriented programming paradigm.

These advances in software were met with more advances in computer hardware. In the mid 1970s, the microcomputer was introduced, making it economical for hobbyists to obtain a computer and write software for it. This in turn lead to the now famous Personal Computer or PC and Microsoft Windows. The Software Development Life Cycle or SDLC was also starting to appear as a consensus for centralized construction of software in the mid 1980s. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the introduction of several new Simula-inspired object-oriented programming languages, including C++, Smalltalk, and Objective C.

Open-source software started to appear in the early 90s in the form of Linux and other software introducing the "bazaar" or decentralized style of constructing software [6]. Then the Internet and World Wide Web hit in the mid 90s changing the engineering of software once again. Distributed Systems gained sway as a way to design systems and the Java programming language was introduced as another step in abstraction having its own virtual machine. Programmers collaborated and wrote the Agile Manifesto that favored more light weight processes to create cheaper and more timely software.

The current definition of software engineering is still being debated by practitioners today as they struggle to come up with ways to produce software that is "cheaper, bigger, quicker".

Typical formal definitions of software engineering are

  • "the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software".
  • "an engineering discipline that is concerned with all aspects of software production"
  • "the establishment and use of sound engineering principles in order to economically obtain software that is reliable and works efficiently on real machines"

Some people believe that software engineering implies a certain level of academic training, professional discipline, and adherence to formal processes that often are not applied in cases of software development. A common analogy is that working in construction does not make one a civil engineer, and so writing code does not make one a software engineer. The notion that the field is mature enough to warrant the title "engineering" is disputed.[citation needed] In each of the last few decades, at least one radical new approach has entered the mainstream of software development (e.g. Structured Programming, Object Orientation), implying that the field is still changing too rapidly to be considered an engineering discipline. Proponents argue that the supposedly radical new approaches are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

Individual commentators have disagreed sharply on how to define software engineering or its legitimacy as an engineering discipline. David Parnas has said that software engineering is, in fact, a form of engineering. Steve McConnell has said that it is not, but that it should be. Donald Knuth has said that programming is an art and a science. Edsger W. Dijkstra claims that the terms software engineering and software engineer have been misused, particularly in the United States.

Software engineering today

The profession is trying to define its boundary and content. The Software Engineering Body of Knowledge SWEBOK has been tabled as an ISO standard during 2006.

In 2006, Money Magazine and rated software engineering as the best job in America in terms of growth, pay, stress levels, flexibility in hours and working environment, creativity, and how easy it is to enter and advance in the field.

Human–computer interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. It is often regarded as the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design and several other fields of study. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware, for example, general-purpose computer peripherals and large-scale mechanical systems, such as aircraft and power plants. The following definition is given by the Association for Computing Machinery:

"Human-computer interaction is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them."

Because human-computer interaction studies a human and a machine in conjunction, it draws from supporting knowledge on both the machine and the human side. On the machine side, techniques in computer graphics, operating systems, programming languages, and development environments are relevant. On the human side, communication theory, graphic and industrial design disciplines, linguistics, social sciences, cognitive psychology, and human performance are relevant. And, of course, engineering and design methods are relevant. 
HCI is also sometimes referred to as man–machine interaction (MMI) or computer–human interaction (CHI).


A basic goal of HCI is to improve the interactions between users and computers by making computers more usable and receptive to the user's needs. Specifically, HCI is concerned with:

  • methodologies and processes for designing interfaces (i.e., given a task and a class of users, design the best possible interface within given constraints, optimizing for a desired property such as learnability or efficiency of use)
  • methods for implementing interfaces (e.g. software toolkits and libraries; efficient algorithms)
  • techniques for evaluating and comparing interfaces
  • developing new interfaces and interaction techniques
  • developing descriptive and predictive models and theories of interaction

A long term goal of HCI is to design systems that minimize the barrier between the human's cognitive model of what they want to accomplish and the computer's understanding of the user's task.

Professional practitioners in HCI are usually designers concerned with the practical application of design methodologies to real-world problems. Their work often revolves around designing graphical user interfaces and web interfaces.

Researchers in HCI are interested in developing new design methodologies, experimenting with new hardware devices, prototyping new software systems, exploring new paradigms for interaction, and developing models and theories of interaction.

Pattern recognition aims to classify data (patterns) based on either a priori knowledge or on statistical information extracted from the patterns. The patterns to be classified are usually groups of measurements or observations, defining points in an appropriate multidimensional space. This is in contrast to pattern matching, where the pattern is rigidly specified.

Within medical science pattern recognition creates the basis for CAD Systems (Computer Aided Diagnosis). CAD describes a procedure that supports the doctor's interpretations and findings.

A complete pattern recognition system consists of a sensor that gathers the observations to be classified or described; a feature extraction mechanism that computes numeric or symbolic information from the observations; and a classification or description scheme that does the actual job of classifying or describing observations, relying on the extracted features.

The classification or description scheme is usually based on the availability of a set of patterns that have already been classified or described. This set of patterns is termed the training set and the resulting learning strategy is characterized as supervised learning. Learning can also be unsupervised, in the sense that the system is not given an a priori labeling of patterns, instead it establishes the classes itself based on the statistical regularities of the patterns.

The classification or description scheme usually uses one of the following approaches: statistical (or decision theoretic), syntactic (or structural). Statistical pattern recognition is based on statistical characterizations of patterns, assuming that the patterns are generated by a probabilistic system. Syntactical (or structural) pattern recognition is based on the structural interrelationships of features. A wide range of algorithms can be applied for pattern recognition, from very simple Bayesian classifiers to much more powerful neural networks.

An intriguing problem in pattern recognition yet to be solved is the relationship between the problem to be solved (data to be classified) and the performance of various pattern recognition algorithms (classifiers).

Holographic associative memory is another type of pattern matching scheme where a target small patterns can be searched from a large set of learned patterns based on cognitive meta-weight.

Typical applications are automatic speech recognition, classification of text into several categories (e.g. spam/non-spam email messages), the automatic recognition of handwritten postal codes on postal envelopes, or the automatic recognition of images of human faces. The last two examples form the subtopic image analysis of pattern recognition that deals with digital images as input to pattern recognition systems.

Pattern recognition is more complex when templates are used to generate variants. For example, in English, sentences often follow the "N-VP" (noun - verb phrase) pattern, but some knowledge of the English language is required to detect the pattern. Pattern recognition is studied in many fields, including psychology, ethology, and computer science.

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