ISR Distinguished Speaker

Joseph Goguen

Dept. of Computer Science & Engineering
“Algebraic Semiotics and User Interface Design”
Friday, October 20, 2000 - 10:30am to 12:00pm
Faculty Host: 

Email RSVP required to Rick Martin at by Monday, October 16.

Information and Computer Science (ICS, building #302), Room 432/438

No cost to attend.


Click here for directions and parking information.


Current HCI results tend to be specialized and precise (e.g., Fitt's law), or else general but of uncertain reliability and generality (e.g., protocol analysis, questionaires, case studies, and usability studies). What seems to be missing are scientific theories that can guide design, e.g., for new media, new metaphors (beyond the desktop), new kinds of hardware, or non-standard users (e.g., with disabilities).

Semiotics, as the general theory of signs, would seem a natural place to seek a general HCI framework. However (1) semiotics has not developed in a precise mathematical style, and hence does not lend itself well to engineering applications; (2) it has mostly considered single signs or systems of signs (e.g., a novel, or a film), but not representations of signs from one system by signs from another, as is needed for studying interfaces; (3) it has not addressed dynamic signs, such as arise in user interaction; and (4) it has not paid much attention to social issues such as arise in cooperative work.

A new project to address such problems has so far developed precise algebraic definitions for sign systems and their representations, and a calculus of representation providing laws for operations that combine representations as well as precise ways to compare the quality of representations. Case studies have considered browsable proof displays, scientific visualization, natural language metaphor, blending, and humor, while social foundations are grounded in ideas from ethnomethodology.

About the Speaker: 

Joseph Goguen is Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, where he is also Director of the Meaning and Computation Lab, and was previously Director of the Program in Advanced Manufacturing. From 1988 to 1996, he was the Professor of Computing Science at Oxford University, Director of its Centre for Requirements and Foundations, and a Fellow of St. Anne's College. From 1979 to 1988, he was a Senior Staff Scientist at SRI International, and a Senior Member of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. In 1999, he was a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Professor Goguen has a bachelor degree from Harvard, and a PhD from Berkeley. He has previously taught at Berkeley, Chicago, and UCLA, where he was a full Professor. He held a Research Fellowship in the Mathematical Sciences at the IBM Watson Research Center, held three Senior Visiting Fellowships at the University of Edinburgh, and gave distinguished lectures at Syracuse, Glasgow, and Austin. He has recently given keynote addresses at conferences on formal methods, metaphor theory, software re-use, requirements engineering, and semiotics. Professor Goguen is author or co-author of over 220 publications, co-author of two books on algebraic semantics, and editor or co-editor of three other books, two of which are titled *Art and the Brain*.

His research interests include software engineering (especially specification, modularization, architecture, requirements and evolution); user interface design; theorem proving; discourse analysis; sociology of technology and science; object oriented, relational and functional programming and their combinations; semiotics; and fuzzy logic. Prof. Goguen is particularly known for his role in founding algebraic specification, including abstract data types, initial model semantics, and the OBJ language, the module system of which has influenced designs of the Ada, ML, and C++ langauges. Much more information can be found on Professor Goguen's website,