Uncertainty displays using quantile dotplots or CDFs improve transit decision-making

Michael Fernandes, Logan Walls, Sean Munson, Jessica Ruth Hullman, Matthew Kay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

32 Scopus citations


Everyday predictive systems typically present point predic-tions, making it hard for people to account for uncertainty when making decisions. Evaluations of uncertainty displays for transit prediction have assessed people's ability to extract probabilities, butnotthe qualityoftheir decisions.Ina con-trolled, incentivized experiment, we had subjects decide when to catchabus using displays withtextual uncertainty, uncer-tainty visualizations, or no-uncertainty (control). Frequency-based visualizations previously shown to allow people to bet-ter extract probabilities (quantile dotplots) yielded better deci-sions. Decisions with quantile dotplots with 50 outcomes were (1) better on average, having expected payoffs 97% of optimal (95% CI: [95%,98%]), 5 percentage points more than con-trol (95% CI: [2,8]); and (2) more consistent, having within-subject standard deviation of 3 percentage points (95% CI: [2,4]),4percentage points less than control (95% CI: [2,6]). Cumulative distribution function plots performed nearly as well, and both outperformed textual uncertainty, which was sensitive to the probability interval communicated. We dis-cuss implications for realtime transit predictions and possible generalization to other domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2018 - Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationEngage with CHI
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356206, 9781450356213
StatePublished - Apr 20 2018
Event2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Apr 21 2018Apr 26 2018

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Other2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2018


  • Cumulative distribution plots
  • Dotplots
  • Mobile interfaces
  • Transit predictions
  • Uncertainty visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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