Probability, Utility, and Human-Computer Interaction

Eric Horvitz

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 6, 1998


After providing an overview of work at Microsoft Research, I will present research on harnessing representations of uncertainty and expected utility to enhance human-computer interaction. I will focus on the Lumiere and Qualia projects. Lumiere research centers on developing methods and architectures for inferring a user's goals and needs by considering the ongoing stream of user actions. An early Lumiere prototype served as the basis for the Office Assistant, the help system in the Office '97 suite of applications. In Qualia research, we are pursuing the use of expected utility to control graphics rendering under scarce resources.


Eric Horvitz is a Senior Researcher in the Decision Theory & Adaptive Systems group at Microsoft Research. He received his PhD and MD degrees at Stanford, focusing in his doctoral work on computation and action in time-critical situations. His current interests include decision-theoretic models of problem solving, particularly for reasoning and action under limited time or memory, and applications of probability and utility to solve problems in time-critical decision making, user interfaces, operating systems, and medicine. He is a Councilor of the AAAI and serves as the editor of the Decisions, Uncertainty, and Computation Area of the Journal of the ACM.


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