Anthony Hornof Awarded $423,000 NSF Grant to Develop Predictive Computational Theory of Multitasking

Antony Hornof Portrait

Associate Professor Anthony Hornof was awarded a $423,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Human Systems Program to pursue a project entitled “A Theory of Human Microstrategy Selection and Integration in Human-Computer Interaction” (NSF #1619036). The award extends Dr. Hornof’s uninterrupted funding from the National Science Foundation to fifteen years. The project is in collaboration with the University of Michigan, where an additional $77,000 was also awarded.

The three-year project, from 2016-2019, will develop the scientific theory that is needed to understand and predict how people will modify their cognitive strategies—the steps that people take to accomplish tasks—to do two tasks at the same time. In many dual-task situations, such as operating an onboard navigation system while driving a vehicle, the two subtasks become so highly interleaved that they effectively become an altogether new third task. The project will develop a tool that user interface designers can use to predict these new integrated task strategies, and to improve the ease-of-use and safety of new user interfaces.

The project will benefit society by providing practical theory that can be applied to a broad range of multitasking settings, including commonly-used handheld and in-vehicle interfaces, as well as specialized interfaces in mission control centers, nuclear power plants, and emergency rooms. The project will integrate contemporary cognitive modeling and eye tracking research into graduate and undergraduate courses, create graduate and undergraduate research opportunities, and forge a collaboration between the University of Oregon and the University of Michigan.

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