This interdisciplinary project will incorporate the disciplines of computer science and mathematics. However the project is specifically housed within the Hope College Department of Computer Science.
It is well known that humans are better than computers at solving problems such as image recognition and semantic understanding. In light of this, many human computing games have been developed in the past six years to assist in solving such problems. The idea, reminiscent of Tom Sawyer’s fence-painting escapade, is to convince people to help solve these problems by presenting them in a way that makes solving them fun. The extent to which human computing games can be used to solve problems that are more computational in nature is an open question.
The goal of the Graph Games team at Hope College is to create and study human computing games that solve computationally complex problems (e.g. Maximum Clique, Traveling Salesman, SAT). The focus will be on games based on graph problems, since many of these problems are simple to understand and have natural visual representations that are likely exploitable by the human mind. One goal is to parameterize such games to determine optimal settings that increase the probability of human success in solving such problems. Eventually we will study four parameters: problem presentation, data visualization, problem size, and player expertise. Understanding how each of these influences player success will enable the creation of more effective games for problem solving. The immediate goals of this summer are to make additions and modifications to our current software to facilitate the studies, add a tutorial system, improve the existing games in several ways, and explore new problems and games.
There are several ways students can be involved: design, implement, and document software; perform literature searches and read journal articles to gain a deeper understanding of one or more graph problems; create puzzles and games based on results of literature search; conduct player-testing sessions; create/modify the artwork in the games; and analyzing the user interface to see what improvements can be made.
Candidates must have some programming experiences (Java preferred) or be very strong in mathematics. Preference will be given to candidates with some GUI programming experience. Experience with any of the following would be a plus: MySQL, Java Servlets, web design and programming, designing and implementing games, human-computer interaction, advanced algorithms and data structures, combinatorics, graph theory, art/graphic design. Please discuss your experience in your statement of interest.