Human-Computer Interaction

Human?computer interaction (HCI) or, alternatively, man-machine interaction (MMI) or computer?human interaction is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. It is an interdisciplinary subject, relating computer science with many other fields of study and research. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware, for example, general purpose computer peripherals and large-scale mechanical systems such as aircraft and power plants.

Aspects and goals

Interdisciplinary aspects

Combined with computer science and information technology are fields including:

  • Aesthetics
  • Anthropology
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Cognitive science
  • Computer vision
  • Design
  • Ergonomics
  • Library and information science
  • Philosophy
  • Phenomenology
  • Psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Sociology
  • Speech-language pathology


A basic goal of HCI is to improve the interaction between users and computers by making computers more user-friendly and receptive to the user's needs. Specifically, HCI is concerned with

  • methodologies and processes for designing interfaces (i.e., given a task and a class of users, design the best possible interface within given constraints, optimizing for a desired property such as learnability or efficiency of use)
  • methods for implementing interfaces (e.g. software toolkits and libraries; efficient algorithms)
  • techniques for evaluating and comparing interfaces
  • developing new interfaces and interaction techniques
  • developing descriptive and predictive models and theories of interaction

A long term goal of HCI is to design systems that minimize the barrier between the human's cognitive model of what they want to accomplish and the computer's understanding of the user's task (see CSCW).

Professional practitioners in HCI are usually designers concerned with the practical application of design methodologies to real-world problems. Their work often revolves around designing graphical user interfaces and web interfaces.

Researchers in HCI are interested in developing new design methodologies, experimenting with new hardware devices, prototyping new software systems, exploring new paradigms for interaction, and developing models and theories of interaction.

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