Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 20

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William B. Rouse

W

illiam B. Rouse is well
known for his systemsoriented research and
development work, with particular
focus on the roles and performance
of people and organizations associated with complex systems. This
work has spanned operations, maintenance, design, research, and management functions in private- and
public-sector enterprises. Many successful training and aiding systems
have resulted from applications of
his human-centered design methodology. The conceptualization, design,
development, and evaluations of
these systems are chronicled in his
many articles and books.
Rouse was born in 1947 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. While completing
his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Rhode Island,
he worked as an assistant engineer at
Raytheon, first in reliability and maintainability and later in systems engineering. This led to his fascination with
systems dynamics and control, as well
as systems engineering more broadly.
He has always found complex, messy
problems to be particularly appealing.
In 1969, he joined Thomas Sheridan's research laboratory at MIT,
earning his S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in
1970 and 1972, respectively. His master's thesis focused on evaluating the
impact of predictor displays on the
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MSMC.2016.2520065
Date of publication: 28 April 2016

20

became very interested in information
systems, including the functioning of
libraries as such systems.
Rouse joined the faculty of the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1974 as an assistant professor
of mechanical and industrial engineering, with a joint appointment in
the Coordinated Science Laboratory.
His initial work at Illinois addressed
computer-aided multitask decision
performance of air traffic controllers.
making, as well as the aforementioned
His Ph.D. dissertation subsequently
information systems initiatives, inaddressed cognitive sources of subcreasingly with an online emphasis.
optimal human prediction, developing
Working with artificial intelligence
and evaluating a mathematical model
researchers led to his pioneering ideas
of human decision making based on
in adaptive aiding, namely, that tasks
stochastic estimation theory. This
can be dynamically allocated between
work began Rouse's enduring interest
humans and computers to enhance
in the formation and role of humans'
overall system performental models.
mance. His concept
He became active
of error-tolerant inin the IEEE Systems,
terfaces also emerged
Man, and Cybernetduring this period.
ics Society (SMCS) in
During the Illinois
1970 while a Ph.D. stuperiod (1974-1981), as
dent at MIT. He recalls
he was promoted to
meeting many people
as so ci ate professor
at SMCS events whom
(1977) and full profeshe had only known by
sor (1980), Rouse also
their writings, includinitiated research in
ing Harold Chestnut, William b. rouse.
human abilities to
K.S. Fu, Ron Howard,
detect and diagnose system failures,
Andy Sage, John Warfield, and Lotfi
conducting many studies with both
Zadeh. He was surprised and encouraircraft pilots and maintenance peraged by how these people were so
sonnel. His research group identified
approachable and supportive. In this
the general nature of human diagnosway, the IEEE became his most importic skills, a mixture of pattern recogtant professional affiliation.
nition and, when needed, more formal
After graduation, Rouse held a
reasoning. This understanding providpostdoctoral position at MIT working
ed the basis for developing intelligent
on Sheridan's Community Dialog Projtraining simulators in domains rangect, focused on computer-based mething from aviation to shipping, process
odologies for group decision making.
control, and electronics maintenance.
In 1973, he was a visiting assistant
This technology provided the
professor at Tufts University while
basis for the formation of Search
also serving a brief period of active
Technology in 1980, focused on conduty as a U.S. Air Force officer. He
tract R&D to develop and evaluate inremained in the inactive reserves for
telligent training and aiding systems
many years. During this period he also

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE October 2015



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015

Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover1
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover2
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 1
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 2
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 3
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 4
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Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover3
Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - Cover4
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