EFFECTIVE INFORMATION ACESS: Computer Science Research Fundamental to Creation of a National Information Infrastructure

James D. Hollan

Computer Science Department
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131


Email: hollan@cs.unm.edu
Phone: 505 277-3112




Adaptive Human Interfaces, Virtual Environments, Usability and User-Centered Design


Multiscale graphical interfaces, adaptive systems, intelligent databases, networked communities, high performance computing, computer security, and visualization.


The NSF Interactive Systems Program has contributed par tial support for our recently awarded NSF Research Infra structure grant. The research theme is effective information access. It builds on the fact that as a department we are already addressing crucial NII research challenges. These include:

  • Providing effective and natural interfaces for navigation of complex distributed information sources

  • Maintaining the system security requisite to sharing information in a networked community Exploiting models of biological systems to assist in developing more robust and adaptive computing environments

  • Mining complex data sources and exploiting parallel systems for information visualization Providing efficient access to parallel computa tion via scalable portable software

    We propose a high-performance architecture tailored to the needs of NII applications, that emphasizes security at the most fundamental level, and provides intuitive adaptive zooming graphical interfaces for users. We will use this architecture to develop an integrated NII application devel opment and evaluation environment. This will leverage Pad++ interface work (Bederson, Hollan), ccr approaches to computation and communication across administrative domains (Ackley), immunologically-based (Forrest) and statistically-based (Helman) approaches to computer secu rity, adaptive systems (Ackley, Forrest, Mitchell), intelli gent databases (Helman, Veroff), and SUNMOS/Puma technology (Maccabe) for high-performance computing.

    The success of our current work is evidenced by the excite ment the novel Pad++ interface software is generating; by the long term support of our intelligent database, statisti cally-based security, and data mining efforts from several sources; by a patent and commercial interest in our novel applications of immunological modeling to computer secu rity; by close interactions with the Santa Fe Institute in the area of adaptive systems; by long term visualization collab orations with the National Laboratories at Sandia and Los Alamos; and by spectacular success of the collaboration between UNM and Sandia National Laboratory to develop SUNMOS (the Sandia and UNM OS), which was used as the compute node operating system in the 1994 Gordon Bell award wining submission and in establishing the Intel Paragon as the world's fastest computer (281 GFlops on MP LINPACK, 329 GFlops on LU factorization code).

    An NII Experimental Laboratory and Shared Applications Focus An applications focus is fundamental to the integration we propose. We will establish an NII Experimental Laboratory in the Science and Engineering Library to serve as an appli cations testbed and focal point for the coordination and integration of our research. The end-to-end research pro gram required will be the forcing function for integrating our existing software and highlighting crucial research issues that can too easily be finessed or ignored without such an application-centered focus. Application domains will initially include those associated with our existing research: effective browsers for the World Wide Web and other distributed information sources using our Pad++ zooming interface paradigm; information mining using our intelligent database and automated reasoning technology; information visualization employing our work on splatting, particle systems, and volume visualization; modeling and simulation in areas such as immunology; computer security applications for detecting unauthorized use of computers, guaranteeing the integrity of data files, and preventing the spread of computer viruses; and information filtering using adaptive systems.


    Bederson, B. B., Hollan, J. D., Perlin, K., Meyer, J., Bacon, D., and Furnas, G. W. Pad++: A Zoomable Graphical Sketchpad for Exploring Alternate Interface Physics, Journal of Visual Languages and Computing, in press.

    Bederson, B.B., Stead, L., and Hollan, J.D., "Pad++: Advances in multiscale interfaces." In Proceedings of CHI'94 Human Factors in Computing Systems Confer ence Companion, ACM/SIGCHI, 1994, 315-316.

    Forrest, S., Perelson, A.S., Allen, L., and Cherukuri, R., "Self-nonself discrimination in a computer." In Pro ceedings of the 1994 IEEE Symposium on Research in Security and Privacy, IEEE Computer Society Press, Los Alamitos, CA, 1994.

    Forrest, S. and Mitchell, M., "What makes a problem hard for a genetic algorithm? Some anomalous results and their explanation," Machine Learning, Vol. 13, Nos.2-3, 1993.

    Helman, P. and Liepins, G., "Statistical foundations of audit trail analysis for the detection of computer misuse," IEEE Trans. on Software Engineering, Vol. 19, No. 9, Sept. 1993.

    Helman, P. and Veroff, R., "Designing deductive data bases," Journal of Automated Reasoning, Vol. 4, No. 1, April 1988, 29-69.

    Hill, W. C., Hollan, J. D. (1994) History-enriched Digital Objects: Prototypes and Policy Issues, The Information Society, 10, 139-145.

    Hill, W.C., Hollan, J.D., Wroblewski, D., and McCandless, T., "Edit wear and read wear." In Proceedings of CHI'92 Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM/ SIGCHI, 1992, 3-9.

    Hollan, J.D. and Stornetta, S., "Beyond being there." In Proceedings of CHI'92 Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM/SIGCHI, 1992, 119-125. Also appeared as a chapter in Readings in Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Becker, (ed.), 1993, 842- 848.


    Current popular discussion about the National Information Infrastructure (NII) envisions the development of an infor mation marketplace that can enrich people's economic, social, cultural, and political lives. We make the case in our proposal that there are important computer science research issues that must be addressed before such an information marketplace can be successful. Our goal is to integrate cur rent department research activities around issues funda mental to successful development of the NII. We contend that achieving the goals of the NII will require:

  • That code be able to move as effectively as data across networks of separate administrative domains

  • Natural intuitive interfaces for accessing large complex distributed information sources

  • Massive computational resources, for applica tions, adaptive interfaces, and information fil tering


    Bier, E.A., Stone, M.C., Pier, K., Buxton, W., and DeRose, T.D., "Toolglass and magic lenses: The see-through interface." In Proceedings of 1993 ACM SIGGRAPH Conference, 73-80.

    Card, S.K., Robertson, G.G., and Mackinlay, J.D., "The information visualizer, an information workspace." In Proceedings of CHI'91 Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM/SIGCHI, 1991, 181-188.

    Forrest, editor. Emergent Computation, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (1991). Also published as Physica D special issue, Vol. 42, Nos. 1-3 (1990).

    Furnas, G.W., "Generalized fisheye views." In Proceedings of CHI'86 Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM/SIGCHI, 1986, 16-23.

    Helman, P., The Science of Database Management, Richard D. Irwin, Publishers (1994).

    Sutherland, I.E., "Sketchpad: A man-machine graphical communications systems." In Proceedings of the Spring Joint Computer Conference, 1963, 329-346, and Baltimore, MD: Spartan Books (1963).


    Virtual environments, Speech and Natural Language Understanding, Other Communication Modalities, Adap tive Human Interfaces, Usability and User-Centered Design, Intelligent Interactive Systems for Persons with Disabilities.