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Using checksums to detect number entry error

Wiseman, S; Cox, AL; Brumby, DP; Gould, SJJ; O'Carroll, S; (2013) Using checksums to detect number entry error. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings pp. 2403-2406. 10.1145/2470654.2481332.

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Number entry is a common task in many domains. In safety-critical environments such as air traffic control or on hospital wards, incorrect number entry can have serious harmful consequences. Research has investigated how interface designs can help prevent users from making number entry errors. In this paper, we present an experimental evaluation of two possible interface designs aimed at helping users detect number entry errors using the idea of a checksum: an additional (redundant) number that is related to the to-be-entered numbers in such a way that it is sufficient to verify the correctness of the checksum, as opposed to checking each of the entered numbers. The first interface requires users to check their own work with the help of the checksum; the second requires the user to enter the checksum along with the other numbers so that the system can do the checking. In each case, two numbers needed to be entered, while the third number served as a checksum. With the first interface, users caught only 36% of their errors. The second interface resulted in all errors being caught, but the need to enter the checksum increased entry time by 46%. When participants were allowed to choose between the two interfaces, they chose the second interface in only 12% of the cases. Although these results cannot be generalized to other specific contexts, the results illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of each way of using checksums to catch number entry errors. Hence our study can serve as a starting point for efforts to improve each method. Copyright © 2013 ACM.

Type: Article
Title: Using checksums to detect number entry error
DOI: 10.1145/2470654.2481332
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > UCL Interaction Centre
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1392307
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