Human Computer Interaction for Management of
Complex Dynamic Systems
Department of Quantum Science and Energy Engineering,
Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8579 JAPAN
The present paper discusses the issue of creativity and usability in conjunction with human-machine interactions in potentially hazardous systems such as nuclear power plants, chemical plants containing explosive and/or poisonous materials, high speed transportation vehicles, etc. The concept of creativity might be considered somewhat irrelevant to such industrial installations, but the concept, to be materialized with the concept of usability in practical situations, is closely related to functional requirements imposed on human-machine interface designed to support operators under certain operational conditions. The functional requirements and the currently available techniques to meet the requirements are briefly described in this paper.
The most important and typical situation where the role of creativity and usability becomes evident is when the dynamic system itself and its operators as well are facing to a safety-critical emergency situation. In the emergency operation, the operators are required to manage the situation by properly utilizing available resources. Since the operators are intensively trained and highly motivated, they can usually manage the situation without serious difficulty. However, the situation becomes extremely difficult to handle when the trigger event is rare and unforeseen, magnitude of the resultant transient is large, influence range of the transient is wide, multiple faults are ongoing, etc. The probability of occurrence of such a situation might be quite small, but not negligible. In fact, this is the situation when the operators are really in need of external support. It is not surprising that the once-popular expert system technology failed to support operators of these complex systems since the