About Ben Shneiderman

Appointments and Recognition

Ben Shneiderman is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, and Member of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park (full resume, Wikipedia article). He has Affiliate Appointments in the Institute for Systems Research, College of Engineering, and the iSchool, College of Information Studies. He has taught previously at the State University of New York and at Indiana University.

He was made a Fellow of the ACM in 1997, elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000, and received the ACM CHI (Computer Human Interaction) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2010: "For research, software development, and scholarly texts concerning human-computer interaction and information visualization." Ben Shneiderman received the IEEE Visualization Career Award in 2012 and was elected to the National Academy of Inventors in 2015.

He received Honorary Doctorates from the Univ. of Guelph (Canada, 1995) and Univ of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain, 2010), and State University of New York at Stony Brook (2015). Ben Shneiderman's biography appears in Marquis's Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in Science and Technology. He is listed among the top 1000 creative people in the USA in the book: 1000: Richard Wurman's Who's Really Who (2002).His Google Scholar page lists more than 70,000 citations (September 2016).

Conferences & Workshops

Along with Bill Curtis Ben Shneiderman originated the 1982 Gaithersburg, MD Conference on Human Factors and Computing Systems that helped launch the ACM SIGCHI series of conferences. He was the Co-Chair of the ACM Policy 98 Conference, May 1998 and is the Founding Chair of the ACM Conference on Universal Usability, November 16-17, 2000. Ben Shneiderman's interest in creativity support tools led to organizing the June 2005 NSF workshop and to chairing the June 2007 Conference on Creativity & Cognition. With Jennifer Preece and Peter Pirolli he ran the pair of NSF workshops on Technology-Mediated Social Participation (www.tmsp.umd.edu) that led to a cover feature issue of IEEE Computer (November 2010).


Dr. Shneiderman is the author of Software Psychology: Human Factors in Computer and Information Systems (1980). His comprehensive text Designing the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (1st edition 1987, 2nd edition 1992, 3rd edition 1998, booksite Addison-Wesley Publishers, Reading, MA), came out in its 4th edition in 2005 with Catherine Plaisant as co-author. The Fifth edition was published in 2010. Translations have appeared in Japanese, Chinese, German, Portuguese, and Greek.

In addition he has co-authored two textbooks, edited three technical books, published more than 450 technical papers and book chapters. His 1993 edited book Sparks of Innovation in Human-Computer Interaction collects 25 papers from the past 10 years of research at the University of Maryland. In 1999 he co-authored Readings in Information Visualization: Using Vision to Think with Stu Card and Jock Mackinlay, then in 2003 continued in this direction by co-authoring The Craft of Information Visualization: Readings and Reflections with Ben Bederson. Ben Shneiderman's vision of the future is presented in his October 2002 book Leonardo's Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies, won the IEEE 2003 award for Distinguished Literary Contribution. Leonardo's Laptop has been published in Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese editions. The book Analysing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World written with Derek Hansen and Marc Smith was published in 2011.


Ben Shneiderman and his students developed the interface for the hyperlink. Originally called "embedded menus" empirical evaluations appeared in the International Journal of Man-Machine Studies in January 1986 and in CACM in April 1986. These projects led to the Hyperties hypermedia system, which was produced by Cognetics Corp., Princeton Junction, NJ, which was used to produced the world's first electronic journal, the July 1988 issue of the Communications of the ACM. This work was cited in Tim Berners-Lee's Spring1989 manifesto http://www.w3.org/History/1989/proposal.html for the web as the source of the "hot spots" or links idea. Shneiderman's 1989 book, co-authored with Greg Kearsley, Hypertext Hands-On!, contains a hypertext version on two disks and was the world's first electronic book according to the Library of Congress.

Information Visualization

Since 1991 his major focus has been information visualization, beginning with his dynamic queries and starfield display research that led to the development of Spotfire (Christopher Ahlberg, CEO). He was a Member of the of the Board of Directors (1996-2001). Spotfire grew to 200 employees and during Summer 2007 was bought by TIBCO. Dr. Shneiderman developed the treemap concept in 1991 which continues to inspire research and commercial implementations. The University of Maryland's Treemap 4.0, developed in cooperation with Catherine Plaisant, has been licensed by the HiveGroup, and remains available for educational and research purposes. Dr. Shneiderman remains as a Technical Advisor for the Hivegroup and he was a Computer Science Advisor (1999-2002) to Smartmoney which implemented the widely used MarketMap for stock market analyses.

Later information visualization work includes the LifeLines project for exploring a patient history, and its successor project, PatternFinder, which enables search across Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). We introduced the Align-Rank-Filter approach to temporal event data exploration and added group analysis features in LifeLines2. Search in EMRs became a larger theme with LifeFlow and EventFlow. Interface development for medical professionals was supported under the SHARP project to track lab test results, facilitate medication reconciliation, reduce wrong patient errors, etc.

Searching for patterns in numerical time series data was enabled by three versions of TimeSearcher, which was applied for stock market, auction, genomic, weather, and other data.The Hierarchical Clustering Explorer supports discovery of features in multi-dimensional data, especially for gene expression data, using the powerful rank-by-feature framework.

Recent projects focus on network visualization: Network Visualization by Semantic Substrates, SocialAction, and NodeXL.These tools are being applied for citation analysis and social network analysis, especially for the iOpener project, Action Science Explorer (ASE), STICK (Science Technology Innovation Concept Knowledge-base), and ManyNets (explore & visualize many networks at once) projects. Shneiderman worked on applying social media to national priorities such as the 911.gov article in Science, which led to work on emergency and disaster response: Community Response Grids. Raising awareness of the need for expanded research was accomplished by the April 2009 meeting that led to the iParticipate report and then two U.S. National Science Foundation supported workshops on Technology-Mediated Social Participation.

Current research projects include EventFlow to explore temporal event sequences, such as electronic health records that contain patient histories, so as to discover patterns of treatments or medications that lead to desired outcomes. EventFlow has powerful tools such as event searching, global search and replace, event merging, hierarchical aggregation, and macro facilities to enable analysts to sharpen their analytic focus. The EventFlow software has a regular distribution to 50+ groups who use it to make actionable insights about their data. For example, our collaborators at UM-Baltimore School of Pharmacy used EventFlow to study radiation treatment patterns for prostate cancer and the impact of warfarin medications. A recent user at the Center for Disease Control & Prevention analyzed 6000 giardia patients to improve guidance on treatment plans. Other applications include social media logs, customer histories, cybersecurity, educational analytics, web logs, and sports.

A recent addition is CoCo to conduct Cohort Comparison between groups of event sequences, such as found in medical clinical trials. CoCo is an exploratory data analysis tool that carries out large numbers of statistical tests, then provides users with a visual interface to explore the tens of thousands of results. A recent success was a project with Adobe that produced insights about customer behavior patterns. A major paper will appear in the ACM Transactions on Intelligent Interactive Systems and a smaller paper will be at the CHI Conference in May. CoCo has been licensed by a leading software company so as to include the technology in their products.

Advisory & Editorial Boards, Consulting

He was Member of the Board of Scientific Counselors Meeting - National Library of Medicine Lister Hill Center, the National Academies Committee on Technical and Privacy Dimensions of Information for Terrorism Prevention and Other National Goals, and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Networking and Information Technology Technical Advisory Group (TAG). He is on the State of the USA Product Advisory Group and a member of the Web Science Research Initiative Advisory Committee.

Ben Shneiderman has been on the Editorial Advisory Boards of nine journals including the ACM Transactions on Computer- Human Interaction and the ACM Interactions. He edited the Ablex Publishing Co. book series on "Human-Computer Interaction." He has consulted and lectured for many organizations including Apple, AT&T, Citicorp, GE, Honeywell, IBM, Intel, Library of Congress, Microsoft, NASA, NCR, and university research groups.

Early Work

Dr. Shneiderman's early work included database research including performance and index optimization. He is also known in software engineering, especially for his widely used innovation of structured flowcharts, commonly known as Nassi-Shneiderman Diagrams. He teaches popular short courses on information visualization and has organized an annual satellite television presentation on User Interface Strategies seen by thousands of professionals from 1987 to 1997.

Photography Projects

An important component of his work has been related to photography, including development of the Photofinder and PhotoMesa tools. His devotion to photography includes a long history of photographing professional events, which has resulted in the 3300 photos at the ACM SIGCHI PhotoHistory and the Univ. of Maryland Dept. of Computer Science PhotoHistory. The March/April 2007 issue of ACM Interactions has an 8-page portfolio of 100+ photos from the 25-year history of ACM CHI conferences.

During his professional career Ben Shneiderman photographed conferences and colleagues. His MyLifePix archive of 12,000 photos is available with descriptions and indexing by name, date, and location. He has selected a set of key personalities who are leading HCI researchers and developers to profile with text and photos with Encounters with HCI Pioneers: A Personal Photo Journal, which was featured in the New York Times (September 7, 2015)

Ben Shneiderman's devotion to photography is inspired by his uncle David Seymour (1911-1956), a world-famous photojournalist, whose biography is shown in web sites that Dr. Shneiderman helped design. The International Center of Photography hosts two of them (http://www.icp.org/chim http://www.icp.org/chim/bio) and a third web site has current information on exhibits and publications (http://www.davidseymour.com). Another family connection is the web site about his parents work, tied to the Univ. of Maryland's S.L. and Eileen Shneiderman Collection of Yiddish Books.

Art Project

Ben Shneiderman explored the artistic side of information visualization in his Treemap Art Project, which was titled “Every AlgoRiThm has ART in it”. Three sets of the twelve large images were produced: (1) hangs in the Computer Science Instructional Center at the University of Maryland, (2) is in the collection of the National Academies in Washington, DC , and (3) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.