Developing Human-Computer Interface Models and Representation Techniques(Dialogue Management as an Integral Part of Software Engineering)

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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

The Dialogue Management Project at Virginia Tech is studying the poorly understood problem of human-computer dialogue development. This problem often leads to low usability in human-computer dialogues. The Dialogue Management Project approaches solutions to low usability in interfaces by addressing human-computer dialogue development as an integral and equal part of the total system development process. This project consists of two rather distinct, but dependent, parts. One is development of concepts for dialogue management, and the other is implementation of a dialogue management system (DMS) to evaluate these concepts. The goal of this paper is to describe our approach to the development of two of these conceptual aspects and how we oriented those toward the needs of practical implementation. The two conceptual aspects are (a) a structural, descriptive model of human-computer interaction, and (b) Techniques for representing both the behavioral (end-user's) view and the constructional (developer's) view of dialogue. The approach to their development was a technology transfer process that was part of a two-year university/industry research liaison between the Dialogue Management Project and IBM Federal Systems Division (FSD), now called Systems Integration Division. Part of this liaison was aimed at moving our research ideas and results into a real-world dialogue development environment. Following presentation of the technical problems and solutions, the paper concludes with a discussion of results of our liaison and by raising and addressing some questions of mutual interest that arose during our cooperative interaction.