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

February 2021
Our open access book, Building Better Interfaces for Remote Autonomous Systems: An Introduction for Systems Engineers (e.g., remotely controlled vehicles), has been published open access, and is available open access (directly as a PDF) through [this link].

January 2021
Our book, Skills to Obstruct Pandemics: How to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19 and similar infections based on the tutor, has been published.

October 2020
Fredrick Ryans, graduate student in the lab and valued colleage, unexpectedly passed away after a brief stay in the hospital. His family's GoFundMe for his funeral.

May 2020
Skills To Obstruct Pandemics tutor has been released. It is a comprehensive tutor for skills to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Book to follow!

January 2018
Caffeinezone has now over 100k downloads!

Three books by Paul Thagard on cognitive science published in OUP series Brain-mind, Mind-society, and Natural Philosophy.
Read the Forewords here.    
Links to cultural references in Ch. 9, Natural Philosophy.

November 2017
Foundations for designing user-centered systems published in Chinese with Chinese Academy of Sciences.

January 2017
New book by Tani to come out in OUP series on embedded cognition


November 2016
ICCM 2016 Special issue in Topics in Cognitive Science in press


July 2016
ICCM 2016 Conference at Penn State

.. Proceedings now online.

April 2016
Project to build tutor for AF nurses started using D2P

April 2016
Tutorial on modeling at
FIERCES on BICA in Moscow.

February 2016
Seminar talk at U of Buffalo.

January 2016
NSF will provide travel support to students to go to ICCM. See the ICCM site for details.

Simple dieting aid being tested in a trial in Iowa.

December 2015
Running behavioral studies now on Kindle

October 2015
Foundations for Designing User-Centered Systems may be finished being translated into Chinese this month.

Talk at Carleton U. and PhD exam at Carleton mid-October.

July 2015
ONR project to study tutoring coming in, and will need RAs.

July 2014
"Running behavioral studies with human participants", was given as a tutorial at the Cognitive Science conference, and the slides as simple teaching support are available.

Gave a tutorial on "From keystrokes to cognitive models" was given at the International summer school on cognitive science in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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, SIFT, and SLAC. I've consulted also with several small and large companies on cognitive modeling and HCI projects. During the pandemic we created a tutor and book (the first public health textbook related to COVID-19) to teach non-pharmcological interventions (NPIs). As part of that process broadly defined, I am a consulting editor to the Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health's journal and am now on the Society's board.

I was an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems, and am for Human Factors. I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Interaction Science. I used to be also for Cognitive Systems Research. I 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 conferences have generated 3 special issues in the Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory journal (noted below).

My research 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 Conference on Cognitive Modeling with about 400 members. email me if you want to be added or have something that they would be interested in hearing about.

I do not have an ORCID number, and I have grave concerns about ORCID numbers. I am interesting in hearing about journals that do not require an ORCID number to publish with them. Human Factors journal had required an ORCID number, which seems antithical to their philosophy. Sage had unilaterally added that requirement and not informed HFES that they had done so. HFES had this requirement removed. I now maintain a list of journals that do not require an ORCID number to submit.

I do not maintain a researchgate site. The current researchgate site attributed to me is an interesting montage that I have nothing to do with. It is pretty and pretty wildly inaccurate. I also have concerns about Publons, particularly requiring their use when reviewing, which I believe to be a conflict of interest by the companies requiring it, such as Sage, who sell it.

site last updated 17 jun 2024

Current Research

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 over 2, and has been extensively revised. It is being re-tested at PSU. The CLS tutor is being applied to several projects by us and CRA to build tutors for nurses in a funded and in a proposed project. 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.

We are also modeling a casualty, and this may bring together work with Chris Dancy modeling how cognition and phsyiology can be integrated.

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 90k downloads and extensive press coverage (see its web site for examples).

Mobile version of this site

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.

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"), and I'm now been offered a participant-observer role in how to name and number a building for information sciences.

The Applied Cognitive Science Lab

My research group is the Applied Cognitive Science (ACS) Lab at Penn State. The main web site is

My books, software, models

Skills to Obstruct Pandemics: How to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19 and related infections
Skills to Obstruct Pandemics: How to protect yourself and your community from COVID-19 and related infections. Ritter, F. E., Clase, A. C., Harvill, S. L., Yeh, M. K.-C., Joseph, R. E., Oury, J. J., Oury, J. D., Fenstermacher, A., Brener, M., & James, J. J. (2020).    [Front matter and Introduction]   [Flyer]    [Tutor the book is based on]

Building Better Interfaces for Remote Autonomous Systems: An Introduction for Systems Engineers
Building Better Interfaces for Remote Autonomous Systems An Introduction for Systems Engineers. Oury, J. D., & Ritter, F. E. (2021).   [Flyer
Open access, online copy]

Proceedings of ICCM 2016, 14th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM 2016).
Proceedings of ICCM 2016, 14th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM 2016). Reitter, D., & Ritter, F. E. (Eds.). (2017). Introduction. Available as single pdf or by paper.


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 several universities in the US, the UK, mainland Europe, and China.

Foundations for User-Centered Design (Chinese version)
chinese foundations cover Foundations for user-centered Design: What system designers need to know about people, Ritter, Baxter, & Churchill (2014), translated by researchers as the Chinese Academy of Science (2017), led by Prof. Xiaolong Zhang. Published by China Machine Press.

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:
Here are links to some courses I've taught at Penn State:
  • HCI undergraduate, IST 331
  • Usability engineering, IST 413 (in PSU Angel)
  • 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)
  • I just have to note that I use Word to prepare documents for publication and even write about how to use word to prepare research documents. Since at least 1990, every version has been better than then the next.
  • 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 for image manipulation.
  • and Dreamweaver to pull it together and upload it
  • Aplus net hosts this with exceeding good uptime and ease of use