Industrial Engineering Seminar Series - Professor Ellen J. Bass, University of Virginia

Event Date: March 22, 2012
Time: 4:30 - 5:30pm
Location: Grissom Hall - Room 280

Professor Ellen J. Bass
Systems and Information Engineering
University of Virginia

A Systematic Approach to Analyzing Human-Automation Interaction Using Formal Task Analytic Models


Complex systems are composed of humans and automation interacting with dynamic flexibility in the allocation of authority and autonomy. Breakdowns in complex systems often occur as a result of system elements interacting in ways unanticipated by designers. The analysis of such systems requires methods for verifying and validating that the range of roles and responsibilities potentially assignable to the humans and automation does not lead to unsafe situations. The use of human task behavior models as part of a larger, formal system model should allow the ramifications of normative and erroneous behaviors to be verified in relation to other aspects of the system. To support the development of formal models of human operator behavior, we have developed a task analytic modeling formalism, the Enhanced Operator Function Model (EOFM) and its multi-operator extension, EOFM with communication (EOFMC). They are Extensible Markup Language-based, platform- and analysis-independent languages with formal syntax and semantics. We have developed associated automated processes for translating instantiated models into the model checking language Symbolic Analysis Laboratory.  Both normative and erroneous human behavior models are produced in order to verify procedure related (omissions, jumps, repetitions, and intrusions) as well as strategic knowledge related (slips) erroneous human behaviors. The system model can then be verified using model checking in order to identify potentially hazardous situations related to the interaction of the environment, human behavior, and human–automation interaction. These methods have already been applied to vehicle and air transportation analyses as well as medical device design and they hold promise for other domains.


Ellen J. Bass is an Associate Professor in the Department of Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia. The goal of her research program is to develop theories of human performance along with quantitative methodologies and associated experimental designs that can be used to evaluate total system performance in dynamic, complex systems. Outcomes of the research can be used in the systems engineering process to inform system requirements, procedures, display designs and training interventions and to support system evaluation. Bass has over 28 years of systems engineering research and development expertise in air transportation, biomedical informatics, healthcare, process control, and weather related applications. She also has extensive experience in engineering architectures for real-time, complex systems. Before joining academia, Bass was a systems engineer for IBM where she specified and tested human-automation interaction functions for several large scale projects for the federal government and she was a research engineer for Search Technology, Inc. where she led several flight deck automation projects. Bass is Associate Editor in Chief for the journal IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part A: Systems and Humans and she serves on four other editorial boards. She is the Chair Elect of the Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making (CEDM) Technical Group of the Human Factors and Ergonomic Society. Bass earned a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.