IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing: VL/HCC 2011 - September 18-22, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Graduate Consortium

Expanding end user control in
socio-technical systems

Recent advances in computing have led to continually deeper integration between computers and human society. People now are part of numerous socio-technical systems that synthesize large numbers of contributing users with vast amounts of source code. Examples include social media systems, open source repositories, online marketplaces and massively multiplayer online games.

Yet as these socio-technical systems have grown in complexity, they have become increasingly difficult for end users to understand and direct toward productive ends. For example, when users put data into a system, they may be unable to anticipate and control how their data will be used by other people or by software in the system. When users take actions in the system, they often cannot foresee and manage unintended effects on other users, software, or the system as a whole, particularly because the software part of a system often contains defects.

The goal of the 2011 VL/HCC graduate consortium is to explore ways to help end users visualize, analyze, and tailor large socio-technical systems. This may include development of novel methods, models and tools, such as programming environments for end users. At a deeper level, it may include developing new theory for predicting the complicated, unstable, sometimes-emergent behavior that results when large numbers of diverse, unpredictable humans are coupled to unreliable software.

Why you should participate

As in years past, NSF funding has been requested to support student travel. All students are eligible to receive this funding, regardless of location or nationality.

Participating — Deadline: Friday, June 24

Who Can Participate

The consortium is open to both master’s and PhD students worldwide. Participation is particularly encouraged from PhD students who are close to proposing a thesis, as well as from members of groups identified by NSF as underrepresented in the sciences and engineering. If multiple applicants from a particular university apply for the consortium this year, then no more than two per university will be selected to participate. To be eligible, each applicant may have participated no more than once in the VL/HCC graduate consortia of past years.

Application Process

Email the following items with VLGC2011 in the subject line to Emmanuel Pietriga ‹› by June 24, 2011 (11:59 pm PDT):

Selection Process

For one-third of the slots, students who have participated once before will be given priority. The remaining slots will be given to students who are new to the event. Each student from the returning group will be linked with new students in a mentoring arrangement. See Who Can Participate above for additional selection criteria. The anticipated notification date is July 7, 2011.


Selected students will be asked to present their work at a poster session during the main conference. Details will be provided to accepted applicants.

Travel Support

As in prior years, NSF funding has been requested to support travel for some or all of the students selected to participate in this consortium. If approved, this funding is tentatively anticipated to cover almost all student costs of attending the consortium and VL/HCC (airfare, registration, hotel, meals, incidentals). NSF might not make a decision on this funding proposal until the summer; therefore, students should not wait for NSF’s decision before beginning to write an application to participate in the consortium.


The consortium event will be a full day on Sunday, September 18, the day before the main conference. All participating students are expected to attend the main conference. Other conference attendees are invited to attend the consortium, to listen to the presentations, to interact with participants, and to give feedback to presenters. More details will be provided, including times and locations.

Examples of Successful Graduate Consortium Applications

To be successful, a submission to VL/HCC Graduate Consortia generally has to have the following parts:

  1. The paper starts with a sentence or two that describes a real-world setting.
  2. It then identifies a problem in that setting.
  3. The remainder of the paper's introduction outlines an approach for solving that problem.
  4. In a subsequent section, the paper describes a prototype or preliminary study showing the feasibility of that approach.
  5. The paper explains why more work is still required in addition to this prior work.
  6. The paper concludes by describing future work that will build on this prior work in order to finish completing the approach.
  7. Somewhere along the way, the paper explains how the approach builds on, or differs from, other related work.

We have annotated three excellent submissions that exemplify the pattern described above. We hope that you will find these examples thought-provoking and helpful as you design your own submission this year.

Panel Members and Organizers