Date Monday, March 7, 2011, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm, location TBA
Title: Database Querying through Direct Manipulation
Speaker: Bin Liu
Database systems are tremendously powerful and useful, as evidenced by their popularity in modern business. Unfortunately, for non-expert users, to use a database is still a daunting task due to its poor usability. In my PhD thesis, I examined stages in the information seeking process and proposed techniques to help users to interact with the database through direct manipulation, which has been proven a natural interaction paradigm. For the first stage of information seeking, query formulation, I proposed a spreadsheet algebra upon which a direct manipulation interface for database querying can be built. I developed a spreadsheet algebra that is powerful (capable of expressing at least all single-block SQL queries) and can be intuitively implemented in a spreadsheet. For the second stage, result review, instead of asking users to review possibly many results in a flat table, I proposed a hierarchical navigation scheme that allows users to browse the results through representatives with easy drill-down and filtering capabilities. I proposed an efficient tree-based method for generating the representatives. For the query refinement stage, I, with my colleagues, proposed and implemented a provenance-based automatic refinement framework. Users label a set of output tuples and our framework produces a ranked list of changes that best improve the query. My thesis work significantly lowers the barrier for non-expert users and reduces the effort for expert users to use a database.
Bin Liu is a PhD candidate of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he works with H.V. Jagadish. His research is on database systems and applications. His PhD thesis is on making databases more usable, through novel querying and result navigation paradigms, as well as automatic query refinement. Bin spent the last two summers as a research intern at IBM Almaden Research Center. Bin obtained his BEng (major in computer engineering and minor in mathematics) with first class honors and MPhil (CS) at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology. For additional information, please visit: http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~binliu