Software Agents: Completing Patterns and Constructing User Interfaces

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Abstract

To support the goal of allowing users to record and retrieve information, this paper describes an interactive note-taking system for pen-based computers with two distinctive features. First, it actively predicts what the user is going to write. Second, it automatically constructs a custom, button-box user interface on request. The system is an example of a learning-apprentice software- agent. A machine learning component characterizes the syntax and semantics of the user's information. A performance system uses this learned information to generate completion strings and construct a user interface.

Description of Online Appendix: People like to record information. Doing this on paper is initially efficient, but lacks flexibility. Recording information on a computer is less efficient but more powerful. In our new note taking softwre, the user records information directly on a computer. Behind the interface, an agent acts for the user. To help, it provides defaults and constructs a custom user interface. The demonstration is a QuickTime movie of the note taking agent in action. The file is a binhexed self-extracting archive. Macintosh utilities for binhex are available from mac.archive.umich.edu. QuickTime is available from ftp.apple.com in the dts/mac/sys.soft/quicktime.

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