Human-computer interaction

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Human–computer interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. It is often regarded as the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design and several other fields of study. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware; for example, characters or objects displayed by software on a personal computer's monitor, input received from users via hardware peripherals such as keyboards and mice, and other user interactions with large-scale computerized systems such as aircraft and power plants. The Association for Computing Machinery defines human-computer interaction as "a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them."[1] An important facet of HCI is the securing of user satisfaction (see Computer user satisfaction).

Because human-computer interaction studies a human and a machine in conjunction, it draws from supporting knowledge on both the machine and the human side. On the machine side, techniques in computer graphics, operating systems, programming languages, and development environments are relevant. On the human side, communication theory, graphic and industrial design disciplines, linguistics, social sciences, cognitive psychology, and human factors are relevant. Engineering and design methods are also relevant. Due to the multidisciplinary nature of HCI, people with different backgrounds contribute to its success. HCI is also sometimes referred to as man–machine interaction (MMI) or computer–human interaction (CHI).

Attention to human-machine interaction is important, because poorly designed human-machine interfaces can lead to many unexpected problems. A classic example of this is the Three Mile Island accident where investigations concluded that the design of the human-machine interface was at least partially responsible for the disaster.[2] Similarly, accidents in aviation have resulted from manufacturers' decisions to use non-standard flight instrument and/or throttle quadrant layouts: even though the new designs were proposed to be superior in regards to basic human-machine interaction, pilots had already ingrained the "standard" layout and thus the conceptually good idea actually had undesirable results.


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