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CS 160 is an introduction to Human Computer Interaction (HCI). You will learn to prototype, evaluate, and design a user interface. You will be expected to work within a group of four or five students in this project-based course. The project topic will be proposed by your group, and your implementation will be tailored to your users’ needs based on interviews with them.

In contrast to most of the other CS classes at Berkeley, CS160 does not focus on particular algorithmic techniques or computer technologies. Instead, you will make use of technology to develop your applications, and you will acquire some expertise in the development environment you choose. The focus of the course is on developing a broad set of skills needed for user-centered design. These skills include ideation, needs assessment, communication, rapid prototyping, algorithmic implementation and evaluation.

Project Theme: This semester, projects will focus on mobile applications. Mobile applications present unique opportunities (e.g., sensors, camera) and challenges (e.g., text input). Your team will be developing applications using the Google Android SDK. We will have a number of Android tablet devices available that you can borrow for the semester (one per team). You can also use your own personal Android device for development.


  • 2/16/11: Submission deadline for the Heuristic evaluation has been extended by 24 hrs. New deadline: Thursday 2/17 1pm.
  • 2/2/11: Here are exmples of last year's CS160 projects.
  • 1/28/11: Prof. Hartmann's office hours shifted by 30 minutes to Wed, 3-4pm.
  • First Day of Class: Wednesday, January 19, 2011.
    Please attend this class if you are on the wait list.


W Jan 19: Introduction [ Slides ]

Assignment due by 5pm on Friday Jan 21: Create a Wiki Account
Assignment due by 5pm on Friday Jan 21: Course Petition
Assignment due by 5pm on Friday Jan 28: Individual Design Exercise
Assignment due by 5pm on Friday Jan 28: Individual Programming Assignment 1

Th Jan 20: Section 1: Installing the Android SDK.

F Jan 21: No class, but assignments due

Due: Create a Wiki Account
Due: Course Petition

M Jan 24: The Design Cycle and Brainstorming [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response]

W Jan 26: Sketching, Storyboarding, and Critique [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Th Jan 27: Section 2: Understanding the Android SDK

F Jan 28: No class, but assignments due

Due: Individual Programming Assignment 1
Due: Individual Design Exercise

M Jan 31: In Class Group Brainstorming [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Meet in 306 Soda; then move to Wozniak Lounge
Assignment due before class on Feb 07: Group Brainstorm
Assignment due before class on Feb 09: Individual Programming Assignment 2

W Feb 2: Task Analysis and Contextual Inquiry [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Th Feb 3: Section: Android SDK Part II

M Feb 7: Conceptual Models [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Due: Group Brainstorm
Assignment due before class on Feb 23: Contextual Inquiry, Task Analysis, Competitive Analysis

W Feb 9: Conceptual Models II, Usability Inspection Methods [ Slides | Readings | Response ]

Due: Individual Programming Assignment 2
Assignment due before class on Feb 16: Individual Heuristic Evaluation

Th Feb 10: Section: Direct Manipulation & Heuristic Evaluation Review

M Feb 14: Human Information Processing [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

W Feb 16: Input Devices and Input Models [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Due: Individual Heuristic Evaluation

Th Feb 17: Section: Review: MHP, Input Devices

M Feb 21: President's Day - No Class

W Feb 23: Prototyping [ Slides | Readings | No Response Due (but you are responsible for the material) ]

Due: Contextual Inquiry, Task Analysis, Competitive Analysis
Assignment due before class on Mar 7: Low-Fidelity Prototype Video
Assignment due before 5pm on Mar 11: Individual Programming Assignment 3

Th Feb 17: Section: The one-hour prototyping challenge

M Feb 28: Engineering Interfaces I: Layout, Widgets, Events [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Assignment due before class on Mar 2: Mid-Semester Feedback

W Mar 2: Engineering Interfaces II: MVC, Multithreading [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Due before class: Mid-Semester Feedback

Th Mar 3: Android: Working with Web Services and APIs (esp. Twitter)

M Mar 7: Usability Testing [ Slides | Readings | Submit Response ]

Due:: Low-Fidelity Prototype Video
Assignment due before class on Mar 14: Low-Fidelity Test and Iteration

W Mar 9: Statistical Analysis [ Slides | Readings | Complete online Experiment ]

Th Mar 10: Section: Conducting Experiments, Analyzing Data

F Mar 11: No Class, but assignment due: Individual Programming Assignment 3 - extended until Monday 3/14

M Mar 14: Midterm Review [ No Readings - come with questions | Slides ]

Due before class: Low-Fidelity Test and Iteration
Due by 11:59pm: Individual Programming Assignment 3
Assignment due before class on Mar 30: Individual Team Assessment 1
Assignment due before class on Apr 04: Interactive Prototype

W Mar 16: Midterm Exam

Th Mar 17: No section.

M Mar 21: Spring Break - No class

W Mar 23: Spring Break - No class

Th Mar 14: Spring Break - No section.

M Mar 28: Graphic Design and Gestalt Principles [ Readings | Submit Response | Slides ]

W Mar 30: Visual Information Design [ Readings | Submit Response | Slides ]

Due: Individual Team Assessment 1

Th Mar 31: Section: Running apps on the Archos tablets

M Apr 4: Interactive Prototype Presentations I [No Readings | No Slides]

Due: Interactive Prototype

W Apr 6: Interactive Prototype Presentations II [No Readings | No Slides]

Assignment due before class on Apr 20: Pilot Usability Study

Th Apr 7: Section: NoSQL Databases

M Apr 11: Visual Information Design [ Readings | You already submitted your response | Slides ]

W Apr 13: Historical Perspectives [ Readings | Submit Response | Slides Part 1, Part 2 ]

Th Apr 13: Section: Design Review 2

M Apr 18: Collaboration and Social Software [ Readings | Submit Response | Slides ]

W Apr 20: Mobile Start-Ups [ Readings | Submit Response | Slides ]

Guest Speakers: Andy Russell, Thushan Amarasiriwardena, co-founders, Launchpad Toys; Kevin Collins, co-founder, Sutro Media
Due: Pilot Usability Study
Assignment due on May 2 1pm: Final Presentation
Assignment due on May 6: Final Video, Code and Poster

Th Apr 21: Section: Design Review 3

M Apr 25: Tangible Interaction [ Readings | Submit Response | Slides ]

Guest Speaker: David Merrill, President and co-founder, Sifteo Inc.

W Apr 27: Last regular lecture Course Summary, Research Directions [ Slides | No Readings | Vote for favorite, least favorite lectures and assignments (Anonymous) ]

Assignment due on May 6: Final Team Assessment

Th Apr 28: Section: Producing Your Final Deliverables

M May 2: No Class; Practice Talks

Due: Final Presentation

W May 4: Final Presentations: Public Presentations (1-3pm, 306 Soda)

Submit Poster if you want course staff to print it

F May 6: Poster Session with other Design Courses (10am-noon, Woz Lounge)

Due: Final Video, Code and Poster
Due: Final Team Assessment




Prerequisites: A working knowledge of programming will be required. CS61A/B are one way to satisfy this requirement. If you have not taken these courses but are comfortable with Java, you will be fine. If you don't know Java but are confident you can learn another programming language quickly you will be fine as well.


  • For all technical questions, use the CS160 Q&A Site.
  • For private questions, send email to cs160(at)

Please avoid emailing the Instructors or the GSI directly. You will receive a response much faster if you use the email address above.
You may also choose to email us anonymously.


  • Lectures: 306 Soda Hall MW 1-2:30PM
  • Discussion Sections: Th 10-11am, Th 12-1pm, 310 Soda

Office Hours:

  • Bjoern: 629 Soda Hall, Time Wed 3-4pm and by appointment
  • Anuj: TBD
  • Prayag: Thu 3-4pm, BiD lab (354/360 Hearst Memorial Mining Building)

Textbook: There is no required textbook for this class. There will be readings assigned for each lecture. The readings will be available online through this wiki. If you are interested in reading further take a look at the recommended reading list.


CS160 is an upper division course, and one of few where you will work extensively on one significant programming project. To participate fully in this course, you are required to have taken CS61B. We will assume that you are familiar with either Java or C++ and are comfortable coding a large-scale project.

You will be expected to actively participate in lectures, complete readings ahead of time, complete a number of small programming assignments, and, most importantly, participate fully in your group project. The teaching staff will promptly return graded homework to you, and will be available to provide feedback and help with problems.

Note that the majority of the work in this course is conducted in the form of a semester-long group project. Unlike other courses, dropping the course before the end of the semester has negative consequences for your other group members. So once you have joined a group please make sure you are committed to staying in the course.

  • You are expected to read the assigned readings and post 1 substantive comment to the discussion on this wiki about the readings before class. Late comments on the wiki will NOT be accepted. There will be plenty of opportunities in class to apply that knowledge and in-class participation will be part of your grade. More on the class participation component can be found here.
  • There will be two types of assignments: programming assignments and project assignments. Programming assignments will be individual exercises; their main goal is to teach you the skills needed to successfully execute on your project.Project assignments will be done in groups.
  • You will be expected to turn in written documentation at each stage of your project. You will also turn in working code. Each group member will help to give an oral presentation about your project.
  • There will be a midterm exam.
  • Most assignments will be turned in through this class wiki. Most project assignments will be due before the start of the lecture during which they are due. Design assignments will be due at the beginning of the week.
  • Project assignments may not be turned in late. Programming assignments will lose 33% per day they are late.
  • Each group is responsible for making sure that all members are participating. As part of the project reports, you be required to describe the effort put in by each member, both on specific tasks and as a fraction of the group’s effort. Make sure you discuss this regularly, to make sure your group is in agreement about the work breakdown.
  • If a group member is not participating, the entire group must meet with the teaching staff. Effective group work (which entails some amount of conflict resolution) is a key skill for success in industry. We would like you to work through conflicts if at all possible, and we will devote some class time to this topic.
  • If you have a question about a grade, you should meet with the GSI. You can come to the professor if the issue cannot be resolved with the GSI's help.
  • Cheating will not be tolerated, and will get you an F in the class.


  • Class participation (10%)
  • Individual programming assignments (25%)
  • Midterm (25%)
  • Project assignments (40%)

Late Policy: Group project assignments may not be turned in late. Individual project and design assignments will lose 33% per 24 hours they are late. If you turn in an assignment late on the wiki, please send an e-mail to the class e-mail address (cs160(at) so that we know to grade it.

Regrading Policy: If you want an assignment regraded, you must submit a hardcopy of your assignment and a written description of why you believe the grade was unsatisfactory within two weeks of reception of the grade. Submit the regrade request to Prof. Hartmann's office, 629 Soda Hall. We will regrade the entire assignment; this means that your grade may potentially drop.

Section Attendance: Section attendance is strongly encouraged and is considered in the class participation grade. However, you are allowed to miss up to two sections; this is to accommodate both planned and unplanned absences.

Note: This is largely a design class. Unlike most other CS classes there is not always a single "correct" design solution. Usually there are many possible designs with different advantages and disadvantages. In this class you will learn to both design new interfaces and evaluate the pros and cons of the interfaces you design. As you complete the assignments for this class you should try to point out both the pros and the cons of the interfaces and applications you design.

Design is typically evaluated in a qualitative manner. As a result a significant portion of the grading in this class will be qualitative, including assessments of the end user experience of the system and the quality of your designs, evaluations, and prototypes.


The majority of the homework in this class will be oriented around the project. Many of these homework assignments will be done in with your project group, but some assignments (or parts of assignments) must be completed individually. We provide a rough schedule of the assignments here (the schedule may change over the course of the semester and we may choose to add or drop assignments).

Individual Assignments

  • Create Wiki Account (due 1/21)
  • Course Petition (1/21)
  • Individual Design Exercise (1/26)
  • Individual Programming Project 1 (1/28)
  • Individual Programming Project 2 (2/7)
  • Heuristic Evaluation and Redesign (2/14)
  • Individual Programming Project 3 (3/9)
  • Visual Design Assignment (3/31)

Individual Feedback (No points)

  • Mid-Semester Feedback (3/7)
  • Team Assessment I (4/20)
  • Team Assessment II (4/6)

Group Assignments

  • Group Brainstorm (2/7)
  • Contextual Inquiry and Task Analysis (2/23)
  • Low-Fi Prototype (3/7)
  • Low-Fi Test + Iteration (3/14)
  • Interactive Prototype (4/4)
  • Pilot Usability Study (4/18)
  • Final Presentation + Poster (5/2)
  • Final Video (5/6)

How to use and edit this wiki

New to wikis? Read the Wiki editing guide.

To contribute to this wiki, you'll need to first create an account. Please use your full name as your user name as in this example. Afterwards, please add some descriptive information about yourself on your personal page -- click your login name (next to the person icon) at the top of the page to access your personal page.

To facilitate discussion we have created the [add comment] button that appears at the bottom of each page. Clicking on the button will allow you to add a comments, ideas or question to the current page. The comments will include your user name and the date in the section heading. Try adding a comment to the discussion page for a lecture.


This lectures, format and syllabus of this class are based on HCI classes taught by Ben Bederson, John Canny, Francois Guimbretiere, Marti Hearst and James Landay. These authors have kindly provided access to their lecture slides and my own slides borrow from their earlier work.