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Mathematical Modeling of Age Differences in Hierarchical Information Systems

Mathematical Modeling of Age Differences in Hierarchical Information Systems

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Published by Panayiotis Zaphiris
This poster presents a modification to an existing mathematical model for depth-breath tradeoff of menu selection to account for age related differences.
This poster presents a modification to an existing mathematical model for depth-breath tradeoff of menu selection to account for age related differences.

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Published by: Panayiotis Zaphiris on Mar 09, 2008
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02/21/2011

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Mathematical Modeling of Age Differences in HierarchicalNavigation Systems
Panayiotis Zaphiris
Institute of GerontologyWayne State University87 East Ferry Street226 Knapp Building+1 313 577 2297p.zaphiris@wayne.edu
Darin Ellis
Institute of GerontologyWayne State University87 East Ferry Street226 Knapp Building+1 313 577 2297d.ellis@wayne.edu
ABSTRACT
This poster presents a modification to an existingmathematical model for depth-breath tradeoff of menu-selection to account for age related differences.
Keywords
Menu selection, navigation, aging, cognitive modeling.
INTRODUCTION
Much of the early research on menu selection wasperformed in the context of analyzing text menus [7]. Inparticular, the depth vs. breath tradeoff has beenextensively examined, both empirically and analytically.Recent empirical work has demonstrated that hierarchicalmenu design experiments can be replicated when appliedto hierarchies of web links [10 ,2]. The navigation problem(i.e. getting lost or using an inefficient path) becomes moreand more treacherous as the depth of the hierarchyincreases [10].
MODEL FORMULATION
Regarding the depth vs. breadth tradeoff in hierarchicalinformation structures, researchers initially providedqualitative recommendations rather than theoretical orempirical predictions [7, 9]. Starting in the mid-80's astream of quantitative modeling in this area emerged.
The Linear Model (Lee & MacGregor, 1985)
Lee and MacGregor [3], broke down the search time inhierarchical menu retrieval into two factors, the humanfactors and the machine factors. The human factorsinclude search strategy, the strategy employed by a user insearching through the alternatives on an index page;reading speed, the rate at which users read or scan thealternatives; and key-press time, the time required to pressthe appropriate key(s) and/or make the necessary mousemove to select an alternative. With respect to scanning,people typically employ one of two basic strategies forsearching through a list of alternatives: exhaustive searchand self-terminating search [7].Hierarchical menu structures of n items obey an inverserelationship between breadth b and the depth d:
bn
lnln
=
The total search time through the index, ST, is the productof the number of menus accessed and the average accesstime per menu:
))((
c I  E ST 
++=
where
 E(I)
is the expected number of items examined by auser on one menu frame before making a decision,
is thetime to process one option,
is human response time and
c
is computer response. For exhaustive search the numberof alternatives per index page that minimizes search timecan be computed using
cbb
 / )()1(ln
+=
Assuming random sequencing of the alternatives, a self-terminating search would require reading on average one-half of them before encountering the appropriated one.Thus,
nb)(c))t/ ((b ST 
lnln21
+++=
Taking the derivative of the above equation and setting itto zero, it can be shown that the optimum
b
assuming aself-terminating search is given by:
cbb
++=
21)1(ln
Age Related Differences in Navigation
In general the empirical work points out that older adultsare at a disadvantage in information retrieval tasks. Meadet al. [5] found that both older and younger adults whoreport low levels of computer experience were more likelyto employ high visual momentum navigation strategieswhen searching a hierarchical database than were youngeradults who reported high levels of computer experience.Nygren [8] found that estimated scanning rate wasdependent on subject’s age. In addition to studies thatdirectly examined the effect of age, there are several
Zaphiris, P., Ellis, R.D.(2000). Mathematical Modeling of Age Differences in Hierarchical Information Systems.Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Universal Usability, Arlington, VA, USA, November 16-17, pp. 157-158.

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