Photo of Alex Quinn

Alex Quinn


Research

My research spans several areas of human-computer interaction (HCI), including crowdsourcing, human computation, decision-making, digital libraries, and information visualization.

Current Projects

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Crowdsourcing and Human Computation

My dissertation research (ongoing) is about using human computation and crowdsourcing to tackle complex decision problems, while using workers' time and efforts efficiently and responsibly. Along the way, we also experimented with blending human intelligence with computer algorithms for applications in natural language processing (NLP) and computer vision.

Quinn, A. J. & Bederson, B. B.  AskSheet: Efficient Human Computation for Decision Making with Spreadsheets.  ACM CSCW 2014.

Resnik, P., Buzek, O., Kronrod, Y., Hu, C., Quinn, A. J., Bederson, B. B. Using Targeted Paraphrasing and Monolingual Crowdsourcing to Improve Translation. ACM TIST, June 2013.

Quinn, A. J., Bederson, B. B.  Human Computation: A Survey and Taxonomy of a Growing Field.  ACM CHI 2011.

Bederson, B. B., Quinn, A. J.  Web Workers Unite! Addressing Challenges of Online Laborers.  ACM CHI 2011 EA (alt.chi).

Quinn, A. J., Bederson, B. B.  Human-Machine Hybrid Computation. ACM CHI 2011 Workshop on Crowdsourcing and Human Computation.

Resnik, P., Buzek, O., Hu, C., Kronrod, Y., Quinn, A., & Bederson, B.B.  Improving Translation via Targeted Paraphrasing. ACL EMNLP 2010.

Quinn, A. J., Bederson, B. B., Yeh, T., Lin, J.  CrowdFlow: Integrating Machine Learning with Mechanical Turk for Speed-Cost-Quality Flexibility.  Tech. Report HCIL-2010-09, University of Maryland, 2010.

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Restaurant Food Safety Inspections

As a side project, I spend about half of my time working in a group of economists and computer scientists to build a system to extract restaurant inspection reports from the web sites of health departments around the US. The goal is to study the data and ultimately make it available via a public API.

[project page]

Past Projects

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Table Interfaces for Museums

Working with MITH and the Smithsonian Institution, I developed two applications for the Microsoft Surface for viewing precious Asian artwork that would otherwise be difficult to see in entirety in the museum. The applications were deployed at the Sackler Gallery beginning in May 2011.

Videos: A Breath Of Spring, Chinese calligraphy scroll, 14th century
Videos: Haft Awrang, Persian manuscript, 15th century

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StoryKit: Designing with Children and Their Elders

Together with with a participatory design group composed of children and elder adults, we designed an iPhone application for creating and sharing stories composed of text, photos, sketches, and sounds.

Bonsignore, E., Quinn, A. J., Druin, A., Bederson, B. B.. Sharing stories “in the wild”: A mobile storytelling case study using StoryKit.. ACM ToCHI, July 2013.

Druin, A., Bederson, B. B., Quinn, A. J.. Designing Intergenerational Mobile Storytelling. IDC 2009, Workshop on Children and Mobile Technology.

Quinn, A. J., Bederson, B. B., Bonsignore, E. M., Druin, A.  StoryKit: Designing a Mobile Application for Story Creation By Children And Older Adults.  Tech. Report HCIL-2009-22, University of Maryland, 2009.

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Readability in the International Children's Digital Library

The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL) is a collection of exemplary children's books from around the world, made freely available for reading on the web. Together with Prof. Ben Bederson, Dr. Chang Hu, Takeshi Arisaka, and Anne Rose, we developed methods for making the books easier to read on small screens, easier to translate into alternate languages, and easier to access for blind users.

Quinn, A. J., Hu, C., Arisaka, T., Rose, A., & Bederson, B. B. 2008. Readability of scanned books in digital libraries. ACM CHI 2008.

Bederson, B. B., Quinn, A. J., & Druin, A. 2009. Designing the Reading Experience for Scanned Multi-lingual Picture Books on Mobile Phones. ACM/IEEE JCDL 2009.

Demos: “ClearText” method, “PopoutText” method

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Visualization of Temporal Data with Sentinal Events

This project explored the idea of aligning temporal data by sentinal events. The work was further developed by Dr. Taowei Wang with Dr. Catherine Plaisant and Prof. Ben Shneiderman.

Wang, T. D., Plaisant, C., Quinn, A. J., Stanchak, R., Murphy, S., Shneiderman, B. Aligning temporal data by sentinel events: discovering patterns in electronic health records. ACM CHI 2008.

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Interrogative Programming

What if, instead of learning a programming language, the computer could ask you a bunch of questions about what kind of program you want to make? Think of it like a consultant. I implemented this using a context-free grammar to guide a line of questioning. My user studies validated the idea on very simple tasks, but revealed some tough challenges for using this to build more useful programs. This was an undergraduate senior project advised by Prof. Steve Tanimoto at the University of Washington.

Quinn, A.  An Interrogative Approach to Novice Programming. IEEE HCC 2002.

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CookieWatcher: Privacy Awareness in the Browser

Do users have any concept of the cookies being set in their web browsers? This Firefox extension lets you see cookies that are coming into your computer in real time so you can be more aware of how they are affecting your privacy. With this awareness, you can make more informed decisions about how to set your cookie preferences in your browser and which sites you might want to avoid algotether. This research project was part of a larger effort exploring informed consent online in collaboration with Prof. Batya Friedman and Dr. Dan Howe. Unfortunately, the extension is currently out of sync with the latest versions of Firefox, but it still has homes and screenshots at Mozdev and Mozilla.org.

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