Information-theoretic characterization of uncertainty in manual control

Dari Trendafilov, Roderick Murray-Smith

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    We present a novel approach for quantifying the impact of uncertainty in manual control, based on information and control theories and utilizing the information-theoretic capacity of empowerment, a task-independent universal utility measure. Empowerment measures, for agent-environment systems with stochastic transitions, how much influence, which can be sensed by the agent sensors, an agent has on its environment. It enables combining different types of disturbances, arising in human-machine systems (i.e. noise, delays, errors, etc.), into one single measure. We expand empowerment to manual control, demonstrate its application in the field of HCI and evaluate it in a user study. Results showed that empowerment is strictly monotonic in relation to the means of standard performance metrics total time off-target, perceived uncertainty, perceived performance and frustration, which suggests its potential in making theoretical predictions of other measures. Loss of empowerment implicated interesting trends in activity levels, which open a new area for future work. Results suggest the potential empowerment has in providing better theoretical foundations for the science of HCI.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProcs 2013 IEEE Int Conf on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC 2013
    PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)9780769551548
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
    Event2013 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC 2013 - Manchester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 13 Oct 201316 Oct 2013


    Conference2013 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC 2013
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Empowerment
    • Human factors
    • Human-computer interaction
    • Information theory
    • Manual control
    • Uncertainty


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