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Formal 3 – What is formal – finger counting to abstract concepts

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Slides for the Formal Methods in HCI unit of my 2013 online course on HCI
https://hcibook.com/hcicourse/2013/unit/09-formal

representations (diagrams, formulae, etc.):
* that can be analysed and manipulated separate from meaning * and which faithfully encapsulate significant aspects of meaning
representing things absent – a tale of 200 cockroaches
placeholders and abstractions
forcing you to think

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Formal 3 – What is formal – finger counting to abstract concepts

  1. 1.  what is formal? finger counting to abstract concepts  
  2. 2. what is formal? • dinner jacket and bow tie? – outward appearance of things – the form • in maths and computing … – representations (diagrams, formulae, etc.) • analysed and manipulated separate from meaning – how? • faithfully encapsulate significant aspects of meaning
  3. 3. counting cockroaches - first night 213
  4. 4. counting cockroaches - second night 279
  5. 5. which night had more? • second night: 279 > 213 • how can you be certain? – count faithfully represents significant feature • but not everything … – cockroaches on first night may be: – bigger, different colour, more friendly
  6. 6. representing things absent • symbols, icons, words – stand for things not present • simulated screen shots – represent the unrealised designs (N.B. no dynamics – limited meaning) • counting cockroaches – keep in a jam jar? disrupts the world – numbers make the impossible possible
  7. 7. placeholders • homunculus – any person – not just someone, anyone • maths:  n: n+1 > n – saying an infinite amount • counting: 279 > 213 – cockroaches, apples, llamas
  8. 8. abstraction • increasing abstraction – screenshot – one screen – storyboard – single sequence of interaction – navigation diagram – potential paths • and further ... – work on UNDO – any system with particular properties ...
  9. 9. live or dead forcing you to think when you count cockroaches you have to decide what counts as a cockroach • baby or adult • live or dead baby or adult

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