Jo‘lle Coutaz, Prof. emeritus


- National Order of the Legion of Honour - 2013

- IFIP TC13 Pionneer Award - 2013

- SICHI Academy of the ACM - 2007

- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Glasgow (Honoris Causa) - 2007


Universitˇ Grenoble Alpes

Laboratory of Informatics of Grenoble (LIG)

Batiment IMAG, 700 av. centrale

Domaine Universitaire

F-38041 St-Martin-d'Heres



Biography, Research interests, Short CV (.pdf), Publications

A bit of history




Area of Expertise

Software aspects of Human Computer Interaction, Software architecture for interactive systems, User Interface (UI) development, Multimodal UI, Distributed UI, UI plasticity (UI adaptation to context of use, Model-Based UI development, End-User Programming/End-User Development, Ambient intelligence, Ubiquitous computing, Smart home.



I have studied computer science at Universitˇ Joseph Fourier (UJF, Grenoble, France) where I obtained my doctorate in 1970 and Th¸se dÕEtat in 1988 in which I set the foundations of software engineering for HCI. I am professor emeritus, formerly professor at UJF from 1973 to Oct. 2012, and the founder in 1990, and head of the HCI research group until 2010 (Ingˇnierie de lÕInteraction Homme-Machine) at laboratory LIG (Laboratory of Informatics of Grenoble).  I am the author of the PAC model (see also wikipedia), a conceptual software architecture model for interactive systems (1987). In 2007, I received the honorary degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from the University of Glasgow and I have been elected to the SIGCHI Academy for Ņleadership in the profession in Computer Human InteractionÓ. I have been involved in the ACM CHI conference as paper and panel chair. I was vice chair of the IFIP Working Group 2.7(13.2) (User Interface Engineering). In 2013, I was awarded the title of "IFIP TC13 Pioneer" in recognition of "outstanding contributions to the educational, theoretical, technical, commercial aspects of analysis, design, construction, evaluation and use of interactive systems". I am formerly a member of the editorial board of Interacting with Computer (Elsevier) and of the ACM Transactions On Computer Human Interaction (TOCHI). In France, I am the co-founder of two working groups on CSCW and Multimodal man-machine interaction of the CNRS national programme. I am co-chief editor of JIPS (Journal of Interaction Person System). I serve as expert for ANR (Agence Nationale de Recherche) as well as for the European Commission. I have been involved in the ESPRIT BRA/LTR project AMODEUS (1989-1995) which was the first project in Europe to truly promote a multidisciplinary approach to HCI. In 2008, I have coordinated a working group on Ambient Intelligence for the French Ministry of Research (MESR) to create a new trans-disciplinary field that brings together Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) and Social and Human Sciences (SHS) to address societal challenges in novel ways. I am deeply honored to be included in the HCI Pioneers website launched by Ben Shneiderman to draw attention to the trail blazers in HCI.


Research Interests

My core interests concern the software aspects of HCI. I have been widely involved in multimodal interaction and software architecture modeling for interactive systems. More recently, I have investigated the concept of plasticity of user interfaces, user interfaces for mobile computing, the notion of context of use, as well as the design and implementation of artifacts that blend the physical and the virtual. I am investigating the problem of End-User Software Engineering for smart homes within the general framework of ubiquitous computing. My participation in European projects (IST FET GLOSS, IST FAME, IST CAMELEON, IST NoE SIMILAR, ITEA EMODE, ITEA UsiXML, Catrene AppsGate) and National projects (ANR CONTINUUM, FUI Minalogic NOMAD) as well as the Dagstuhl seminars on Ubiquitous Computing and on End-User Software Engineering illustrate these interests.


A bit of history: How I switched from Operating Systems to HCI

It is at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) that, in 1982, I touched a mouse for the first time. I returned to CMU in 1983 as a scientific visitor, and it is there that I developed the concept of UI mediator published in IEEE Computer Sept. 1985 (ŅAbstractions for User Interface DesignÓ), as well as a constraint-based screen layout manager for the syntactic editor of the Gandalf project (one of the very first software development environments, led by Nico Haberman). In France, at the time, personal workstations did not exist, whereas CMU was equipped with Altos and Perqs. At CMU, I had the opportunity to chat with James Gosling who was developing the window manager for the Andrew system. I remember rich discussions about the pros and cons of overlapping VS tiled windows. I used my own money to buy the first Mac and to attend CHI 83 in Boston, just out of curiosity. CHI 83 changed my scientific orientation completely. I returned to France in December 84 with my Apple Macintosh (imagine: no disk drive and 128 Kbyte of main memory, but a very well-designed toolkit!). It is then that I left behind my research in operating systems, and started working on the software aspects of HCI (not knowing yet that HCI would become a research area).


My belief: you need to do what you feel is right, and not follow the path comfortably paved by mainstream research areas.


Publications, Biography, Short CV (.pdf), Research interests, A bit of history


Last update: May 2017