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I do research in human-computer interaction (HCI), with a focus on visualization. HCI is a field which, I feel, combines the excitement of active and creative engagement with computers, along with much potential for novel and significant contributions from new practitioners. I especially love the idea of using the computer as a laboratory for visual and interactive experiments.


Refereed Journal Articles:

Nathalie Henry, Jean-Daniel Fekete, Michael J. McGuffin (2007). NodeTrix: A Hybrid Visualization of Social Networks. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG), Vol. 13, No. 6, November/December 2007, pages 1302-1309 (8 pages). [Journal article accepted after a 2-round review process, and presented at IEEE Information Visualization Conference (InfoVis) 2007. Acceptance rate: 27/116 or 23%. Impact factor of TVCG: 1.794 for 2006.]
  • Summary: Considers hybrid graphical representations that combine node-link and adjacency matrix diagrams for the purposes of graph visualization. A prototype system is implemented to experiment with this idea. Techniques for smoothly animating between node-link and adjacency matrix representations are also considered.
  • pdf
  • Quote from Ben Shneiderman, who was in the audience during the paper presentation at InfoVis: "Incroyable [...] Bravo! [standing and applauding briefly at the end of the presentation]"

Michael J. McGuffin, Ravin Balakrishnan (2005). Fitts' Law and Expanding Targets: Experimental Studies and Designs for User Interfaces. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), Vol. 12, No. 4, December 2005, pages 388-422 (35 pages).
  • Summary: Builds on McGuffin's master's thesis, differing in the following respects: The article contains (1) a broader and more up-to-date survey of related literature; (2) a more systematically organized comparison and discussion of techniques, including techniques for facilitating target selection that don't use expansion; (3) a more general analysis than that given in section 4.3.2 of McGuffin's master's thesis, that derives a bound on the performance benefit of expansion in tiled targets (an extreme case where targets completely cover the user's input space) in terms of the accuracy of a target selection prediction algorithm; and (4) experimental data suggesting that, unfortunately, using cursor trajectory extrapolation for prediction, it may be very difficult to achieve accuracy high enough to yield a measurable performance benefit. In other words, attempts to use expansion to reduce acquisition time of tiled targets may be doomed (although expansion has other benefits, and does reduce acquisition time in other cases). The article also omits material from McGuffin's master's thesis, such as the thought experiments and the "Integrated Index of Difficulty" (IID).
  • pdf
  • Official copy:
  • BibTeX entry

Refereed Full-Length Conference Papers:

Shengdong Zhao, Michael J. McGuffin, Mark H. Chignell (2005). Elastic Hierarchies: Combining Treemaps and Node-Link Diagrams. Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization (InfoVis) 2005, pages 57-64 (8 pages). [Acceptance rate: 31/114 or 27%]
  • Summary: Considers hybrid graphical representations that combine node-link and treemap diagrams for the purposes of tree visualization. A theoretical analysis yields a taxonomy of various potential hybrid combinations, and a prototype system is implemented to experiment with these.
  • pdf and follow-up notes (including errata)
  • Official copy:
  • movie (28 MB avi, DivX 6.0 encoded, 720x480, 29.970 fps, 5:00)
    Although the prototype does support some animated transitions, performance problems during the capturing of the video resulted in these animations not being very apparent in the video.
  • BibTeX entry

Michael J. McGuffin, Ravin Balakrishnan (2005). Interactive Visualization of Genealogical Graphs. Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization (InfoVis) 2005, pages 17-24 (8 pages). [Acceptance rate: 31/114 or 27%]
  • Summary: A graph theoretic analysis of genealogical graphs (or "family trees", as they're commonly called) reveals why these graphs are difficult to draw. This motivates some novel graphical representations, including one based on a "dual-tree", or combination of two trees. Also described is a novel interaction technique for collapsing/expanding subtrees to any depth with a single mouse drag.
  • Quote from one reviewer: "this paper [is] a nice clean solution for a generally misunderstood problem. Yes - the general usage of 'family tree' for this kind of graph is pervasive and actively misleading, I'm delighted that this paper will be an excellent citation to clear this point up. The use of both layout and interaction to solve a graph drawing problem makes this a central infovis topic."
  • pdf and follow-up notes (including errata)
  • Official copy:
  • movie (43 MB zipped avi, decompresses to 126 MB; cinepak encoded, 720x480, 10 fps, 4:59)
    Animations in the prototype are smoother than they appear in the movie, due to the low frame rate of the movie.
  • BibTeX entry

Michael J. McGuffin, Gord Davison, Ravin Balakrishnan (2004). Expand-Ahead: A Space-Filling Strategy for Browsing Trees. Proceedings of IEEE Symposium on Information Visualization (InfoVis) 2004, pages 119-126 (8 pages). [Acceptance rate: 27/89 or 30%]
  • Summary: Expand-ahead is a space-filling technique by which some nodes of a tree are automatically expanded to fill available screen space. This reveals more of the tree to the user, and allows the user to drill down the path to a leaf node in fewer clicks, by skipping over the levels that have been expanded for them.
  • Quote from one reviewer: "navigation is tightly coupled with visualization"
  • pdf and follow-up notes (including errata)
  • Official copy:
  • movie (64 MB zipped avi, decompresses to 161 MB; cinepak encoded, 700x480, 10 fps, 4:59)
    Animations in the prototype are smoother than they appear in the movie, due to the low frame rate of the movie.
  • demo (windows executable)
    While running the demo program, use the up and down arrow keys on your keyboard to change the font size interactively. A README file is included with more details on how to operate the demo.
  • BibTeX entry

Michael J. McGuffin, m. c. schraefel (2004). A Comparison of Hyperstructures: Zzstructures, mSpaces, and Polyarchies. Proceedings of 15th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia (HT) 2004, pages 153-162 (10 pages). [Acceptance rate: 24/104 or 23%. Scored a unanimous, perfect 5/5 from all 5 reviewers. Nominated for Best Paper award. Awarded "Special Research Distinction for Excellent Presentation of Theoretical Concepts". Quote from one reviewer: "I never really comprehended ZigZag properly until I read this paper"]
  • Summary: Builds on McGuffin's unpublished webpage "A Graph-Theoretic Introduction to Ted Nelson's Zzstructures" by considering, in addition to zzstructures, a graph structure associated with schraefel's mSpace. Readers may find section 3 to be a good first, though necessarily incomplete, introduction to zzstructures.
  • pdf and follow-up notes (including errata)
  • Official copy:
  • BibTeX entry

Michael J. McGuffin, Liviu Tancau, Ravin Balakrishnan (2003). Using Deformations for Browsing Volumetric Data. Proceedings of IEEE Visualization (VIS) 2003, pages 401-408 (8 pages). [Acceptance rate: 63/192 or 33%. Featured on back cover of proceedings.]

Michael McGuffin, Nicolas Burtnyk, Gordon Kurtenbach (2002). FaST Sliders: Integrating Marking Menus and the Adjustment of Continuous Values. Proceedings of Graphics Interface (GI) 2002, pages 35-41 (7 pages). [Acceptance rate: 25/96 or 26%. Featured on front cover of proceedings.]
  • Summary: Describes a pop-up slider interaction technique, called FaST Slider, for selecting and adjusting continuous values in a fast, transient way. Once a FaST Slider is invoked, the user can either (1) drag length-wise to adjust the slider's value, and then release to quickly dismiss the slider, or (2) drag perpendicular to the slider to "post" it (like a tear-off menu) allowing additional controls to be accessed for fine tuning.
  • pdf
  • Official copy:
  • demo (windows executable) and associated readme file
  • unpublished table comparing techniques (plain text)
  • BibTeX entry

Michael McGuffin, Ravin Balakrishnan (2002). Acquisition of Expanding Targets. Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) 2002, pages 57-64 (8 pages). Also in CHI Letters 4(1). [Acceptance rate: 61/409 or 15%.]

Conference Contests:

Michael J. McGuffin (2006). Winning entry to the Contest of the International Symposium on Graph Drawing (GD) 2006, in the Theoretical Graph Competition category. [Tied for First Place with another entry submitted by a team of four people.]

Miscellaneous Publications:

Michael John McGuffin (2007). An Investigation of Issues and Techniques in Highly Interactive Computational Visualization. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Thesis. Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Summary: Builds on the three pieces of work published by McGuffin and his co-authors at VIS 2003, InfoVis 2004, and InfoVis 2005 respectively, by presenting the three pieces of work as case studies sharing a common set of high-level design goals, by analyzing and comparing the issues encountered in the case studies, by developing a 6-dimensional taxonomy of parameters that can be interactively manipulated in a visualization, and by proposing a dozen design guidelines for future work.
  • pdf
  • BibTeX entry

Michael John McGuffin (2002). Fitts' Law and Expanding Targets: An Experimental Study, and Applications to User Interface Design. Master of Science (M.Sc.) Thesis. Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  • Summary: Builds on work published by McGuffin and Balakrishnan at CHI 2002, paying more atttention to design considerations for multiple expanding targets, and introducing the notion of an "Integrated Index of Difficulty" (IID). Chapter 2 also contains some novel thought experiments designed to deepen the reader's intuition for Fitts' law.
  • pdf and follow-up notes (including errata)
  • abstract, and summary in lay terms
  • BibTeX entry

Related Material

Expanding Targets:

jextar is a Java EXpanding TARget library initiated, and under development, by Felix Dorner, as of 2004.

Exscade is a menu for Mozilla where menu items are expanded in an attempt to facilitate selection.

Unpublished Projects / Ideas / Sketches

an electromagnetic field simulator (2004)
See also this Java applet for visualizing an electrostatic field
a fluid simulator (2004)
visualizing vector fields
Genetic Programming Applied to Interactive Art (2004)
Interactive Evolution of Reactive Graphics
A Graph-Theoretic Introduction to Ted Nelson's Zzstructures (2004)
regarding ZigZag
BibTeX entry
graphs in 3D (2003)
an interactive simulation and visualization
Properties of Sensory Channels (2002)
a taxonomy
Bibliography of Cursor Trajectory Prediction Techniques (2002)
results of a literature search
prototype face detector (2002)
a computer vision course project
Generalized Pixels (2001, 2002)
painting behaviour on a canvas
A Content-centric Model of Interaction (2002)
regarding meta-interfaces
cone trees (2001)
an experiment in visualizing files
3D modeller (2001)
supporting 2-handed sculpting
a file browser (2001)
provides 2 simultaneous and alternate views of files
2-Handed Camera Navigation (2000)
combines egocentric and object-centric metaphors
sphere eversion (1998)
turning a sphere inside-out