Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Timothy M. Jacobs, PhD


With the tremendous growth of published electronic information sources in the last decade and the unprecedented reliance on this information to succeed in day-to-day operations, comes the expectation of finding the right information at the right time. Sentential interfaces are currently the only viable solution for searching through large infospheres of unstructured information, however, the simplistic nature of their interaction model and lack of cognitive amplification they can provide severely limit the performance of the interface. Visual information retrieval systems are emerging as possible candidate replacements for the more traditional interfaces, but many lack the cognitive framework to support the knowledge crystallization process found to be essential in information retrieval. This work introduces a novel visual information retrieval technique crafted from two distinct design genres: (1) the cognitive strategies of the human mind to solve problems and (2) observed interaction patterns with existing information retrieval systems. Based on the cognitive and interaction framework developed in this research, a functional prototype information retrieval system, called Bubble World, has been created to demonstrate that significant performance gains can be achieved using this technique when compared to more traditional text-based interfaces. Bubble World does this by successfully transforming the internal mental representation of the information retrieval problem to an efficient external view, and then through visual cues, provides cognitive amplification at key stages of the information retrieval process. Additionally, Bubble World provides the interaction model and the mechanisms to incorporate complex search schemas into the retrieval process either manually or automatically through the use of predefined ontological models.

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DTIC Accession Number