WINTER 2004 -- Information and Computer Science -- UC Irvine

ICS 104 Course Reference

Instructor: David G. Kay, 406B Computer Science (

Teaching assistant: Tosin Aiyelokun (

Course goals: The first 40 years of computer science were concerned mainly with computers themselves--making them faster, smaller, more reliable, and better understood mathematically. Perhaps that's still the main concern of the field as a whole, but today computer scientists devote increasing attention to computers in their real-world context, which usually involves the people who use them.

Computers may be complex systems, but human beings are even more complex, and when we try to understand how computers and people work together--well, there's a lot to learn. This course will introduce the broad field of human-computer interaction (HCI): This psychological underpinnings of cognition and perception; the variety of interaction devices, media, and styles; and methods for designing systems and evaluating their usability. The success of most systems today, especially consumer products, depends largely on HCI decisions.

This course is also the prerequisite for ICS 105, the project course in HCI.

Prerequisite courses and concepts: The prerequisite for ICS 104 is one course in computing and upper division standing. The course will not require any significant programming--that's for ICS 105--but we do expect each student to be able to write clear, cogent, grammatical English at an upper division level because much of the work in this course will involve describing and justifying the design decisions and evaluation judgements you make. We also expect you to have these basic computing skills: Searching and browsing the Web, reading and sending Email, downloading files, viewing and printing PDF (Adobe Acrobat) documents, and creating or saving documents for Email and other purposes in plain ASCII text form (not HTML or Word attachments).

Meeting place and times: Lecture meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:20 in Humanities Instructional Building 110, with a scheduled discussion section on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8:00 to 8:50 in Computer Science 180.

Office hours: The TA will have office and consultation hours at times to be arranged; your primary opportunity to work with him will be during the scheduled discussion section. I will be in or near my office during the following scheduled hours, during which course-related matters will have first priority: Tuesdays from 2:15 to 3:00 and Thursdays from 10:00 to 10:45. Of course emergencies may come up, but I will try to give advance notice of any change. If I'm not immersed in something else, I'll be glad to answer short questions whenever I'm in my office, so feel free to drop by any time. I'll also be happy to make appointments for other times during the week. The quickest and most effective way to reach me is by electronic mail, as described below.

Questions and announcements: You can usually get a response to your course-related questions within a few hours (perhaps a bit longer on the weekends) by sending electronic mail to the address This goes to both the TA and the instructor, so whoever reads it first can respond. If you need to reach one of us individually, our individual addresses appear above.

We may also send course announcements by Email to the official course mailing list, so you should check your Email regularly. Note that this mailing list goes to the Email address that the registrar has for you (your UCInet ID). If you prefer to read your Email on another account, you should set your UCInet account to forward your Email to your preferred account (you can do this on the web at Don't let this slide; if you miss official announcements, your grade could suffer. If you are not yet enrolled in the course, you should check the course Email periodically at the archive address given below; that's how you'll know if you've been given permission to add.

This course has a home page at (which you can reach more mnemonically from, the instructor's home page); holds an archive of official course Email; and a course Note Board for student-to-student discussions is available when you log on to . We don't use a news group for this course.

Textbook and course materials:
Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, by Jennifer Preece, Yvonne Rogers, and Helen Sharp.

The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint, by Edward R. Tufte. This short monograph takes a critical look at the use of PowerPoint, a pervasive means of presenting information.

Visual & Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Decision Making, by Edward R. Tufte. This reprint of Chapter 2 of Tufte's book, Visual Explanations, describes two situations where the way information was presented had life-or-death consequences.

Course structure:
Assignments (40% of the course grade, with later assignments generally weighted more heavily than earlier ones)
Class participation (15%)
One midterm, given in class on Thursday, February 12 (15%)
One final exam, on Tuesday, March 23, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (30%)

We will guarantee that overall scores over 90% will receive an A- or better, scores over 80% a B- or better, and scores over 70% a C or better, but the actual grade cutoffs may be lower.

We're required to say that in unusual circumstances, these criteria could change, but we do not expect that to happen.

Add and drop policy: More students wish to add this class than we have the capacity to accommodate. Those wishing to add must fill out an enrollment request at the first class meeting; Following departmental and university guidelines, we will establish priorities for filling any seats that become available.

The absolute deadline for dropping the course is the end of class on Thursday, January 22. Because students who are enrolled occupy a seat that other students want, ICS does not allow students to drop after it's too late for another student to fill that seat. We will observe strictly the ICS policy of prohibiting drops after the second week of the course.

What you must do right now to get started in ICS 104:
-- If you do not have a UCInet ID (an account on the EA system for Email), get one. See
-- If you prefer to read your electronic mail on an account other than your UCInet account, redirect your mail at
-- Give a snapshot of yourself (with your name written on the back) to your TA. This will help us learn your names quickly. (This is not just for fun--it's a course requirement.) Also turn in your signed Questionnaire to your TA in discussion section.
-- If you aren't yet officially enrolled in the course, check the course Email archive regularly (see above) so you can keep up with official announcements (which may include announcements about enrollment).

Good advice and helpful hints:

Check your electronic mail regularly; this is an official channel for course announcements.

Attendance in class is essential; concepts and issues that come up in class will find their way onto the exams and class participation in various forms counts towards the course grade.

Always keep your own copy of each assignment, both electronically and on paper; if an assignment should get lost in the shuffle (or if a file server in the lab should crash, which has happened in the past), we'll expect you to be able to supply a replacement easily.

If you find yourself having trouble or getting behind, speak with a TA or the instructor. But never take the shortcut of copying someone else's work and turning it in; the consequences can be far worse than just a low score on one assignment. The ICS department takes academic honesty very seriously; for a more complete discussion, see the ICS departmental web page covering academic honesty issues:

Approximate course outline:
Week Date Topic Readings*


13 January
Introduction to the course and HCI

15 January
Conceptual models and metaphors


20 January
Cognitive foundations

22 January
Interaction devices


27 January
Collaboration and communication
How interactions affect users


29 January
Interaction styles


3 February
The design process

5 February
Menu interfaces


10 February

12 February


17 February
Needs and requirements
Design and prototyping

8, 9

19 February


24 February
Direct manipulation

26 February
Screen elements and layout


2 March
Hypermedia systems

4 March
Users with disabilities


9 March
10, 11

11 March
More on evaluation
12, 13, 14


16 March
Case studies

18 March
Epilogue and review

23 March
Final exam, Tuesday, 10:30-12:00

* Chapters shown are in the Preece/Rogers/Sharp text. We'll let you know when the Tufte and other required readings are timely.

Acknowledgements: Alfred Kobsa and Nayla Nassif generously contributed materials to this course. In particular, Prof. Kobsa's slides are available on line at Please send any comments or questions to rather than to Prof. Kobsa directly.