Sketching for military courses of action diagrams

Kenneth D Forbus*, Jeffrey Usher, Vernell Chapman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

34 Scopus citations


A serious barrier to the digitalization of the US military is that commanders find traditional mouse/menu, CAD-style interfaces unnatural. Military commanders develop and communicate battle plans by sketching courses of action (COAs). This paper describes nuSketch Battlespace, the latest version in an evolving line of sketching interfaces that commanders find natural, yet supports significant increased automation. We describe techniques that should be applicable to any specialized sketching domain: glyph bars and compositional symbols to tractably handle the large number of entities that military domains use, specialized glyph types and gestures to keep drawing tractable and natural, qualitative spatial reasoning to provide sketch-based visual reasoning, and comic graphs to describe multiple states and plans. Experiments, both completed and in progress, are described to provide evidence as to the utility of the system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2003
Event2003 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces - Miami, FL, United States
Duration: Jan 12 2003Jan 15 2003


Conference2003 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces
CountryUnited States
CityMiami, FL


  • Analogy
  • Multimodal interfaces
  • Qualitative reasoning
  • Sketch understanding
  • Spatial reasoning
  • nuSketch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction

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