Frank Ritter's Homepage - Penn State
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What's New?

May 2014
Foundations for Designing User-Centered systems has been published, may be available in your library through Springer Link, and some simple teaching support is available.

March 2013
CaffeineZone has been profiled in Oprah's "O" magazine's April issue (p. 110) on using caffeine more effectively. Now on newstands!

December 2012
Our tutor for teaching battlefield trauma has been released to alpha testers.

November 2012
The book with practical advice on how to run studies has been published by Sage. On the web page for it, you can order an examination copy (Request Review Copy, an image), if you can use it in your teaching.

July-August 2012
Tutorials on how to run studies, a practical guide, given at the Cognitive Science Conference in Japan and at the Institute for Software, Chinese Academy of Sciences. These teaching materials are available.

December 2012
I gave a talk at Wright Patt in the Chief Scientist's Lecture series about risk driven design. There is an exciting and growing group there. Talk materials on the recent talks page.

December 2012
The first issue of IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics: Humans and Systems, a new journal, has just been published. It offers a new outlet for simulations of humans. As an associate editor, I'm charged to help recruit (and evaluate) papers for the journal.

25 July 2012
Our paper on Cognitive Java Agent Construction Kit (CoJACK) came out in Biologically Inspired Cogntive Architectures as the lead article in the first issue.

March 2012
Students in the lab were awarded to conference paper awards at the BRIMS conference. Chris Dancy got the best paper and best student paper award, and Changkun Zhao got an recommended reading list award. It also got an IST press release.

2 December 2008
Work using High performance computing appeared in the National Supercomputing Center's magazine, "Modeling the mind"
Research Overview
 

I am interested in using cognitive modeling within a unified theory of cognition such as Soar or ACT-R to test theories of learning, moderators, and networks, and to improve human-computer interaction. I and my students and colleagues have built several tools to make model building, protocol analysis, and statistical analysis easier. I am also interested in developing stochastic learning and optimization algorithms to model behavior and to improve other analyses.

I also work with NSMRL, Agent Oriented Software, Charles River Analytics, and SIFT. I've consulted also with several small and large companies on cognitive modeling and HCI projects.

I'm an associate editor for Cognitive Systems Research and IEEE Transactions on Systems and Humans, and on the editorial board for Human Factors. I also edit a book series, the Oxford Series on Cognitive Models and Architectures for Oxford University Press. I've run the BRIMS conference for 3 years with Bill Kennedy and Brad Best, and these have generated 3 special issues in the CMOT journal (noted below).

Our research group has been funded through a number of sources, including the ONR, DTRA, MCWL, DARPA, NSMRL, and the MoD, DERA, DRA, Dstl, and DSTO.

I maintain a mailing list for the International Confernece on Cognitive Modeling with about 600 members. email me if you want to be added or have something that they would be interested in hearing about.

site last updated 28 nov 2013


Current Research
 

Simulating the emergence of networks with intelligent, memory-limited agents
We have been creating simulations of how networks form using relatively large numbers of cognitive architecture-based agents (about 30). These memory limited agents move around in an environment and form networks. Our work has shown that there are several factors that influence the growth of these networks that are not always reported, and should be, and that agents with human-like memory have different networks that those with perfect memory.

D2P tutors
We have created a language, D2P (Declarative to Procedural), for creating tutors. We have created two tutors for the Marine Corps using this language. One on shooting moving targets and one on combat lifesaving skills (battlefield first aid). The first one has been tested at PSU and has an effect size of 1.5, and has been extensively revised. It is being re-tested at PSU and will be tested this spring by the Marine Corps at Quantico. The CLS tutor is being alpha tested this winter. It has a lot of bugs and typos in it, but it also has a simulation and was built fairly cheaply using people without advanced degrees, so we think that this may be a useful tutor creation approach.

CaffeineZone App
CaffeineZone, an app for tracking and predicting caffeine use, and on iTunes (currently available as a free and paid iOS app, and will maintain a free version). It has over 80k downloads and extensive press coverage (see its web site for examples.

Mobile version of this site

Past Research
I have done research on how to design university department web sites (useful for a wide range of sites), how to contact people on the Internet appropriately, and feeling of knowing (now a "Citation Classic").

The Applied Cognitive Science Lab

My research group is the Applied Cognitive Science (ACS) Lab at Penn State. The main web site is http://acs.ist.psu.edu.


My books, software, models

Foundations for User-Centered Design
Foundations for user-centered Design: What system designers need to know about people, Ritter, Baxter, & Churchill (2014), Springer. We also have a small web site of supplemental materials [Web site with slides, extra references, etc.] It has been used at 3 universities in the US.

Running behavioral studies with human participants
Running behavioral studies with human participants: A practical guide, Ritter, Kim, Morgan, & Carlson (2013), Sage. We also have a small web site of supplemental materials [Web site with slides, extra references, etc.] It has been used at 8 universities in the US, Canada, and the UK. There is also a tech report version available.

In order to learn: How the sequence of topics influence learning
Ritter, F. E., Nerb, J., O'Shea, T., & Lehtinen, E. (Eds.), (2007). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. This book describes order effects (e.g., ab vs. ba) in human and machine learners. It arose out of a European Science Foundation project to study learning in humans with applications to education and technology.

Human-system integration in the system development process: A new look.
Ritter, F. E. [member], Committee on Human-System Design Support for Changing Technology. (2007). Human-system integration in the system development process: A new look. Richard W. Pew and Anne S. Mavor (eds.). National Research Council, National Academy Press. Washington, DC. This book describes a risk-driven approach to large system design. This provides a role for human-factors and HCI issues, and it proposes several research projects in these areas, some related to the central role that models of users should provide in this process.

Techniques for modeling human performance in synthetic environments: A supplementary review
Ritter, F. E., Shadbolt, N. R., Elliman, D., Young, R., Gobet, F., & Baxter, G. D. (2003). Wright- Patterson Air Force Base, OH: Human Systems Information Analysis Center. This book is a reply to Pew & Mavor funded by the UK government, and it includes about 30 projects in this area, many of which we have been working on. Some have appeared as program announcements in the UK (intentional), and in the US (we don't know the casuality).

Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Cognitive Modelling
Ritter, F. E., & Young, R. M. (Eds.). (1998). Thrumpton (UK): Nottingham University Press. Now out of print, but available online.

 

Herbal, a high level behavior representation language
Herbal is designed to provide a higher level language than Soar or ACT-R. We have documented 3-10x speedup, and for undergraduates at Lock Haven University to program Soar as quickly as graduate students at CMU. We have used it and are using it to create more complex models more quickly. It draws on software engineering, compilers, and HCI to do this. Some software Some models Some other resources
Useful links related to grad school
Some web pages I help take care of:
Teaching
Here are links to some courses I've taught at Penn State:
  • HCI undergraduate, IST 331
  • HCI methods, graduate, IST521
  • Modeling for undergraduates, IST 402
  • Modeling for graduate students, IST 597
  • Introduction to research, IST 590
  • Research topics for the graduate SARI series [handout]
  • Discrete math, IST230 and general discrete math resources
Other teaching
Service (some)
Acknowledgements
  • I took many design elements from Jason Hong's web site design, with permission. Not surprisingly, he teaches and writes about HCI. The site is not perfect, but I'll grow into it.
  • I also used http://www.befunky.com/ for image manipulation.
  • and Dreamweaver to pull it together and upload it
  • Aplus net hosts this with pretty good uptime