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ISE Welcomes Matthew Bolton

Using Formal Methods and Human Performance Modeling to Engineer Safe and Effective Systems


Seminar by Matthew Bolton

Assistant Professor

Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering

University at Buffalo


Friday, October 19th, 2018


210E Baker Systems

1971 Neil Avenue


Breakdowns in complex systems often occur as a result of system elements interacting in unanticipated ways. In systems with human operators, unexpected human interactions (i.e. human errors) are frequently cited as contributors to such failures. Conventional human factors engineering practices are not exhaustive and thus miss interactions critical to system safety and performance. Formal methods are tools and techniques from computer science that enable analysts to mathematically prove whether models of computer systems satisfy safety properties. Dr. Bolton’s research investigates how formal methods can be used with human performance modeling to discover and correct problems caused by potentially unexpected human-automation interactions. In this talk, he will describe two efforts performed in pursuit of this objective. For the first topic, Dr. Bolton will describe a novel method for generating erroneous human behaviors as divergences from task analytic human behavior models. He will show how this method can be used with formal methods to prove whether or not potentially unanticipated erroneous behavior can contribute to complex system failures using an apache helicopter example. For the second topic, Dr. Bolton will describe how his lab has been using formal methods and psychoacoustics to find and correct issues where interactions between medical alarms can make one or more of them unhearable. He is currently using this method to evaluate the alarm sounds from the international medical alarm standard.


Dr. Bolton is an Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University at Buffalo (UB). He obtained his Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, in 2010. Before joining UB, he worked as a Senior Research Associate at NASA’s Ames Research Center and as an Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Bolton is an expert on the use of formal methods in human factors engineering and has published widely in this area. He has successfully applied his research to safety-critical applications in aerospace, medicine, defense, and cybersecurity.  Dr. Bolton has received funding on projects sponsored by the European Space Agency, NSF, NASA, AHRQ, and DoD.  This includes a Young Investigator Program Award from the Army Research Office. He is an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Human Machine Systems and the outgoing Chair of the Human Performance Modeling Technical Group for the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. He was appointed as a Senior Member of IEEE in 2015 and received the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s William C. Howell Young Investigator award in 2018.

Tags: Seminar