ACM SIGCHI Summer School on Computational Interaction

Inference, optimization and modeling for the engineering of interactive systems

12-17 June 2017

Lucerne, Switzerland, ETH Zurich

Welcome to the 3rd ACM SIGCHI Summer School on Computational Interaction. This year the summer school will be held on the shores of beautiful Lake Lucerne in Switzerland (organized by ETH Zurich).

The summer school takes place 12-17 June 2017 (Monday through Saturday), at the Hotel FloraAlpina, less than one hour from Zurich. Please note that the registration fee includes lodging, tuiton and all meals. This fantastic deal is only possible due to our generous sponsors.


Registration is now open! Take advantage of early bird rates.
We are now an ACM SIGCHI sponsored summer school!
Nokia joins our pool of sponsors.
Disney Research Zurich sponsors the summer school.
Website for Summer School 2017 online.

Themes & Topics

As we enter the post-PC era, new technologies emerge and they bring along new challenges that the traditional user-centered design approach is not well equipped to meet. For example, artificial intelligence, wearable computing, augmented and virtual reality, and custom interactive devices enabled by emerging digital fabrication technologies pose increasingly substantial challenges for interaction design. As interfaces become more sophisticated, an exponentially expanding set of design decisions need to be made. Manual approaches can only explore a tiny fraction of the design space.

The scope of problems that can now be solved algorithmically, even on individual PCs, has expanded vastly due to advances in computing power and increased efficiency of numerical solvers. However, computational aspects are rarely taught in the context of HCI. Thus, the goal of the summer school is to teach PhD students and HCI researchers the foundations of computational tools in the context of user interface design and their application in interactive systems.

This encompasses modeling of interaction, deriving and engaging with statistical models of content, automatic learning of preferences and computer-assisted optimization of interfaces. Applied machine learning and appropriate quantitative analysis, suitable for real-time, closed-loop interactions will be key elements of the summer school program.

There will be a strong focus on developing applied skills through practical sessions integrated into the school program, which will give students practical experience in using well-grounded, cutting edge analysis, modeling and inference in engineering interactive systems.

The summer school will be organized around the common themes of:

  • Optimization: Solving interaction and user interface design problems by deriving interface configurations which satisfy constraints and maximize performance criteria.
  • Machine learning & inference: A principled and robust approach to designing a transformation from input to useful action.

Each of the lecture blocks will have embedded programming assignments showing how to apply the techniques in concrete human-centered applications.

Summer school students will:

  • Learn how to turn emerging technologies into viable interfaces while adhering to models of human capability.
  • Expand their capabilities to build robust interactions across a wide range of contexts and devices.
  • Understand how computational approaches can focus interaction design on the interesting work of specifying the questions and letting computational methods resolve the answers.

The summer school will close with a full-day hackathon.


The list of instructors/speakers includes the leading experts in the area of computational HCI. Since this is the third instalment of the summer school, we have now established a well thought through and successful format and curriculum. Each speaker is responsible for a full day of instruction, dedicated to their area of expertise. Days are divided into theoretical background (i.e., lectures) and practical hands-on exercises. For each topic there will be extensive opportunities to practice the acquired knowledge and to get feedback from the instructors.

Keynote Speakers

This year we will have exciting keynote speakers (tbc), giving students first-hand experience of state-of-the-art research in HCI and adjacent areas.


We thank our sponsors, ACM SIGCHI, Nokia, Disney Research Zurich and ETH Zurich, for enabling this summer school!


The summer school will begin on Monday, 12 June and close with an exciting one-day hackathon on Saturday, 17 June. There will be a mix of lectures and hands-on work, with presentations in the morning, followed by practical development sessions in the afternoon. More details to follow.

Students are requested to bring a laptop to engage in the interactive portions of the school.


This is the third instalment of the summer school and part of an annual series: