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Designing Maps to Help People

Date and Time
Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
CS Department Colloquium Series
Thomas Funkhouser
Over the last 15 years spatial databases and mapping services have become one of the most important applications on the Internet. In that time we have seen transformative increases in the availability of spatial data such as detailed satellite, streetside and casual images, 3D terrain and building models, and real-time traffic information. Such data has made it possible to create a variety of new kinds of maps and online experiences of any location on earth. Yet, only a handful of different kinds of maps are available online today. Moreover, it is not always clear what task today's online maps are designed to solve.

In this talk I'll present a user-centered view of map design. I'll describe some of the difficult spatial tasks people regularly face as they navigate the world and I'll draw on the long history of mapmaking to show a variety of maps that are carefully designed to address these tasks. Examples will include maps designed to help users find their way from one location to another, to aid viewers in better understanding the spatial layout of 3D environments, and to assist tourists in finding points of interest in a new city. I'll conclude with a set of open challenges for online map design.

Maneesh Agrawala is an Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He received a B.S. in 1994 and a Ph.D. in 2002, both from Stanford University. Maneesh works on visualization, computer graphics and human computer interaction. His focus is on investigating how cognitive design principles can be used to improve the effectiveness of visual displays. The goals of this work are to discover the design principles and then instantiate them in both interactive and automated design tools. Recent projects based on this methodology include automated map design algorithms, systems for designing cutaway and exploded view illustrations of complex 3D objects, and interactive tools for manipulating digital photographs and video. He received an Okawa Foundation Research Grant in 2006, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, an NSF CAREER award in 2007, the SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher award in 2008 and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2009.

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