Dr. rer. nat. Helmut Lang

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PhD Thesis


Optimisation and Evaluation of Software Support Systems




Interaction between computers and their users is not always straightforward. Potential difficulties and problems in dealing with computer systems could be avoided employing effective measures of assistance.

When users need help for software applications, they usually use internet search engines to get the information they need. However this approach reveals some drawbacks:

  • Especially users new to a program often have difficulties specifying appropriate search queries as they are not yet familiar with the "jargon" used for certain software products and thus do not use suitable keywords
  • Especially for new software or after updates, it takes some time till relevant information is available in newsgroups or blogs
  • Information found often refers to other versions of the software and might be useless for the user's version

Those problems do not apply for help systems that are integrated into the actual software program. While many programs are shipped with an integrated help system users tend to ignore this information source.

One reason for this neglect of integrated help systems might be the fact that those have changed little over time and usually consist of a number of indexed and hyperlinked text files that are arranged in sections and subsections and provide some kind of search capability.

One of the most famous attempts to introduce a new system for user assistance was surely “Clippy the paper clip”, an interactive animated character that was part of the Microsoft office suite. However, Clippy was widely reviewed negatively by users.

To find out about the origins for the resentments against Clippy and identify solutions and workarounds that make interactive assistants more appealing to users, is the key objective of my thesis. Therefore an interactive, anthropomorphic user interface agent has to be implemented and user studies have to be performed using this agent.

Research Interests
  • User interface design
  • Usability engineering
  • Non-native speech recognition


Embedded Aigaion Query 2014

C. Mosch, B. Boegel and H. Lang
Hochleistungsrechnen in Baden-Württemberg – Ausgewählte Aktivitäten im bwGRiD 2012: Beiträge zu Anwenderprojekten und Infrastruktur im bwGRiD im Jahr 2012
KIT Scientific Publishing, Chapter Das bwGRiD Wissenschaftsportal, pp. 177–202, 2014
Link to Document


H. Lang, M. Klepsch, F. Nothdurft, T. Seufert and W. Minker
Are Computers Still Social Actors?
CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paris, France, Series: CHI EA '13, pp. 859–864, 2013

F. Nothdurft, H. Lang, M. Klepsch and W. Minker
Bases of human-computer trust and explanations
CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paris, France, Series: CHI EA '13, pp. 1737--1742, 2013

H. Lang, T. Dolpp and F. Nothdurft
How Do Users Solve Software Problems?
HCI International 2013 - Posters’ Extended Abstracts, Springer, Las Vegas, USA, pp. 134–138, 2013
Link to Document


F. Nothdurft, G. Bertrand, H. Lang and W. Minker
Adaptive Explanation Architecture for Maintaining Human-Computer Trust
36th Annual IEEE Computer Software and Applications Conference, Izmir, Series: COMPSAC, June 2012

H. Lang and W. Minker
A Collaborative Web-based Help-System
Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Web Intelligence, Mining and Semantics, ACM, New York, NY, USA, Craiova, Romania, Series: WIMS '12, pp. 60:1--60:5, 2012

H. Lang and F. Nothdurft
An avatar-based help system for a grid computing web portal
Proceedings of the 14th ACM international conference on Multimodal interaction, 2012

H. Lang, M. Klepsch, F. Nothdurft, T. Seufert and W. Minker
The Influence of Proactivity on Interactive Help Agents
SouthCHI 2013, Springer, Maribor, Slovenia, Series: Human Factors in Computing and Informatics, pp. 748--767, 2012
Link to Document


H. Lang, C. Mosch, B. Boegel, D. Benoit and W. Minker
An Avatar-Based Help System for Web-Portals
14th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, pp. 537-546, 2011
Link to Document


H. Lang, M. Raab, R. Gruhn and W. Minker
Comparing Acoustic Model Adaption Methods for Non-Native Speech Recognition
International Conference on Acoustics (NAG-DAGA), 2009
Link to Document

In Progress / Completed
Embedded Aigaion Query 2010

Bachelor Thesis
Contextual Help Spanning Multiple Web Pages
April 2010
Link to Document

Embedded Aigaion Query 2012

W. Minker, H. Lang, A. Schmitt, S. Ultes and F. Nothdurft
Assistive and Adaptive Dialogue Systems
Graduate Course within the ERASMUS/SOCRATES Mobility Programme, Department of Computer Science, University of Granada (Spain), June 2012


Dr. rer. nat. Helmut Lang

Helmut Lang
Dr. rer. nat. Helmut Lang
Graduation Date: 26.01.2016
First Employment: Intel, Germany