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Which clippings match 'Space Syntax' keyword pg.1 of 1
23 OCTOBER 2014

Describing social and material interactions through formal methods

"To some extent, Formal Methods sit uneasily within interaction design. Human beings are rich, complex, nuanced, engaged in subtle and skilful social and material interactions; reducing this to any sort of formal description seems at best simplistic. And yet that is precisely what we have to do once we create any sort of digital system: whether an iPhone or an elevator, Angry Birds or Facebook, software is embedded in our lives. However much we design devices and products to meet users' needs or enrich their experiences of life, still the software inside is driven by the soulless, precise, and largely deterministic logic of code. If you work with computers, you necessarily work with formalism.

Formal Methods sit in this difficult nexus between logic and life, precision and passion, both highlighting the contradictions inherent in interaction design and offering tools and techniques to help understand and resolve them.

In fact, anyone engaged in interaction design is likely to have used some kind of formal representation, most commonly some sort of arrow and sketch diagram showing screens/pages in an application and the movements between them. While there are many more complex formal notations and methods, these simple networks of screens and links demonstrate the essence of a formal representation. Always, some things are reduced or ignored (the precise contents of screens), whilst others are captured more faithfully (the pattern of links between them). This enables us to focus on certain aspects and understand or analyse those aspects using the representation itself (for example notice that there are some very long interaction paths to quite critical screens)."

(Alan J. Dix, 2013)

Dix, Alan J. (2013): Formal Methods. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). "The Encyclopedia of Human–Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.". Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation. Available online at https://www.interaction–


abstract system models • Alan Dix • arrow and sketch diagram • context awareness • context-aware interfaces • design methods • design products • deterministic logic • dialogue models • digital devices • digital interactions • digital system • executable models • formal abstraction • formal analysis • formal description • formal design methods • formal methods • formal notation • formal representations • formalised principleshuman-computer interactioninteraction designInteraction Design Foundation • material interactions • notation • physical context • physical interactionphysigrams • product design process • product development methodologyrepresentationrich descriptionsrich user experienceshaping our relationship to the material worldsocial interactionssoftware modellingspace syntax • specification language • state machines • state transition network • structured approach • system behaviour • tangible interfacestechnology affordancesusability testinguser experienceuser-based evaluationworld around us • world representations


Simon Perkins
11 MARCH 2011

Space Syntax: quantitative analysis of relationships between spatial layout and social, economic and environmental phenomena

"The Space Syntax approach is both an architectural theory and a software–based toolkit for the planning, design and management of the built environment. The approach investigates relationships between spatial layout and a range of social, economic and environmental phenomena including patterns of movement, public space use, land use and crime distribution. Space Syntax theory and technology was pioneered in the 1970s by Prof Bill Hillier and colleagues at University College London.

Built on quantitative analysis and geospatial computer technology, the Space Syntax approach provides a set of evidence–based techniques for the analysis of spatial configurations of all kinds, especially where spatial configuration seems to be a significant aspect of human affairs, as it is in buildings and urban areas. Applied in both academic research and practice, Space Syntax theory and technology treats cities and buildings 'space first', that is as the network of spaces that people use and move through."



architectural practice • architectural theory • architectural wayfinding • Bill Hillier • built environment • crime distribution • economic phenomena • environment design • environmental phenomena • evidence-based techniques • geospatial computer technology • human affairs • James Gibson • network of spaces • patterns of movement • phenomenal space • public spacepublic space usequantitative analysissocial phenomena • software-based toolkit • space first • space syntaxspatial configuration • spatial configurations • spatial layout • University College London • urban areas • urban planningwayfinding systems


Simon Perkins

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