U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Finding Waldo: Learning about Users from their Interactions

Publish Date: 
Monday, March 31, 2014
Visual analytics is inherently a collaboration between human and computer. However, in current visual analytics systems, the computer has limited means of knowing about its users and their analysis processes. While existing research has shown that a user’s interactions with a system reflect a large amount of the user’s reasoning process, there has been limited advancement in developing automated, real-time techniques that mine interactions to learn about the user. In this paper, we demonstrate that we can accurately predict a user’s task performance and infer some user personality traits by using machine learning techniques to analyze interaction data. Specifically, we conduct an experiment in which participants perform a visual search task and we apply well-known machine learning algorithms to three encodings of the users interaction data. We achieve, depending on algorithm and encoding, between 62% and 96% accuracy at predicting whether each user will be fast or slow at completing the task. Beyond predicting performance, we demonstrate that using the same techniques, we can infer aspects of the user’s personality factors, including locus of control, extraversion, and neuroticism. Further analyses show that strong results can be attained with limited observation time, in some cases, 82% of the final accuracy is gained after a quarter of the average task completion time. Overall, our findings show that interactions can provide information to the computer about its human collaborator, and establish a foundation for realizing mixed- initiative visual analytics systems.
Brown ET, A Ottley, H Zhao, Q Lin, R Souvenir, A Endert, and R Chang. 2014. "Finding Waldo: Learning about Users from their Interactions." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 20(12):1663-1672. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2014.2346575
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