Olsen, Dan

DRAFT: forthcoming addition to the website

Olsen at INTERCHI 93
Dan Olsen speaks at the ACM INTERCHI Conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands on April 23, 1993.

Dan Olsen Jr., formerly a Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University, is one of the first and most influential researchers specializing in user interface software. His research contributions span a wide variety of areas, including Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Interactive Machine Learning, and the development of metrics and principles for human-robot interaction. Olsen also served as the first director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

Olsen at ACM CHI 94
Dan Olsen with John Sibert and Brad Myers (left to right) at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Boston, MA on April 24, 1994.

At Brigham Young University, Olsen directed the Interactive Computing Everywhere (ICE) Project, which aims to provide people with interactive access to computer technology in every physical situation involving work or play. As the cost of computing decreases, while the power and capabilities of such technologies increase, computing has potential to permeate more of people’s everyday lives. As people began to use new computing and interactive devices in new situations, the resulting diversity of interactive capabilities  and the management of this diversity posed a key challenge for researchers such as Olsen and his ICE project team.

Olsen at ACM CHI 2012
Dan Olsen receives his SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award from Brad Myers at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems May 5-10, 2012 in Austin, TX.

Olsen’s additional research interests include QuizTek, a project to automate grading through interactive machine learning; Physical Computing, developing new devices with embedded computation; and Wyldlight, an effort to capture light, shape, and motion in the natural world.

In 2002, Olsen received the CHI Lifetime Service Award, recognizing his many years of work on behalf of the SIGCHI community and his initiatives to benefit his colleagues, including playing a key role in founding the highly-successful Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST). He was inducted into the CHI Academy in 2004 and awarded the CHI Lifetime Research Award in 2012.

“Dan Olsen has been intensely devoted to the SIGCHI community, bringing his cheerful laugh and strong opinions, while working hard for all his career to raise quality and support students.  He’s an admirable community builder and his own work on software engineering tools to support developers had widespread impact on the tools now so widely used.” – Ben Shneiderman


  • Ph.D. in Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania (1981)
  • M.S. in Computer Science, Brigham Young University (1978)
  • B.S. in Computer Science, Brigham Young University (1976)


  • Professor, Brigham Young University (1990 – Present)
  • Director, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University (1996 – 1998)
  • Professor, Carnegie Mellon University (1996 – 1998)
  • Department Chair of Computer Science, Brigham Young University (1992 – 1996)
  • Associate Professor (1986 – 1990), Assistant Professor (1984 – 1986), Brigham Young University
  • Assistant Professor, Arizona State University (1981 – 1984)


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