Brent Hecht
Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
University of Minnesota

Keller Hall 5-191
Twitter (@bhecht)
Google Scholar

My Lab

GroupLens (with Loren Terveen, Joe Konstan, Lana Yarosh, and Haiyi Zhu)


Sept. 2015: Got married!

August 2015: New project funded by the National Science Foundation ("Human-centered Semantic Relatedness", a collaboration with Shilad Sen).

June 2015: Our paper on smartwatch cartography – StripeMaps: Improving Map-based Pedestrian Navigation for Smartwatches – has been given a Best Paper Award at MobileHCI 2015!

June 2015: We've launched a public beta of Atlasify ('Towards the Geography of Everything'), our research system published at SIGIR! Check it out at

May 2015: Gave an invited talk at the "Social Pedia" workshop at ICWSM, organized by folks at Stanford and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Apr. 2015: Our work on using specialized domain signals to improve semantic relatedness estimation (low-level, but important!) was accepted at the International Joint Conference in Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2015), one of the top publication venues in that field (collaboration w/ Shilad Sen, my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson, Matthew Wright, and several wonderful undergrads from a NSF-funded summer undergraduate research experience).

Apr. 2015: Our paper on a new approach to smartwatch cartography that linearizes routing guidance (no need to pan around that tiny screen!) was accepted at MobileHCI 2015 (w/ Dirk Wenig, Johannes Schöning, and Rainer Mailaka).

Apr. 2015: Went to CHI2015 in Seoul to see two collaborative projects beautifully presented by my colleagues Shilad Sen and Pavel Samsonov. Also gave a guest lecture at KAIST while I was out there (thanks to Alice Oh for the invite!)

Apr. 2015: Nominated for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) GeoForAll Global Educator of the Year Award (w/ Shashi Shekhar) for our MOOC on spatial computing.

Mar. 2015: Check out our ICWSM 2015 paper, which finds that in Wikipedia, the most popular content is often not of the highest-quality (w/ Morten Warcke-Wang, Vivek Ranjan, Loren Terveen).

Mar. 2015: Our CHI 2015 paper on geographic disparities in the "localness" of user-generated content received an Honorable Mention at CHI 2015, indicating a Top-5% submission (w/ Shilad Sen, Heather Ford, Mark Graham, Oliver Keyes).

Jan. 2015: Received a CSCW 2015 Best Paper Award (indicates top 1% of submissions) for our paper on Mechanical Turk and gold standards (w/ Shilad Sen and seven awesome undergrads at Macalester College)!

Jan. 2015: Talk at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.

Brent J. Hecht, Ph.D.

Brent Hecht is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Minnesota. With interests that lie at the intersection of human–computer interaction, geography, and big data, his research centers on the relationship between big data and human factors such as culture. A major focus of his work involves volunteered geographic information and its application in location-aware technologies.

Quick Bio:

Dr. Hecht received a Ph.D. in computer science from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree in geography from UC Santa Barbara, and dual Bachelor’s degrees in computer science and geography from Macalester College. He was a keynote speaker at WikiSym – the premiere conference on wikis and open collaboration – and has received awards for his research at top-tier publication venues in human-computer interaction and geography (e.g. ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, COSIT). He has collaborated with Google Research, Xerox PARC, and Microsoft Research, and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, WIRED, MIT Technology Review, New Scientist, AllThingsDigital, ACM TechNews, and various other international TV, radio, and Internet outlets.

For Prospective Students:

I am currently looking for students excited about doing work at the intersection of HCI, geography, and big data. Undergraduate and graduate students who would like to join my group should feel free to e-mail me directly. Please include a little bit about yourself (e.g. your major, degrees, CV/resume) and let me know something about your research interests. I have worked with students with backgrounds in computer science, geography (with strong technical skills) and/or related disciplines.

Selected Recent Publications:

IJCAI 2015: Sen, S., Johnson, I., Harper, R., Mai, H., Olsen, S., Mathers, B., Vonessen, L., Wright, M., and Hecht, B. Towards Domain-Specific SR: A Case Study from Geography. Proceedings of the 24th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI ’15). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
Paper PDF

ACM MobileHCI 2015: Wenig, D., Schöning, J., Hecht, B., and Malaka, R. StripeMaps: Improving Map-based Pedestrian Navigation for Smartwatches. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI 2015). New York: ACM Press.
* Best Paper Award (Top 1% of Submissions)
Paper PDF

AAAI ICWSM 2015: Warncke-Wang, M., Ranjan, V. Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. Misalignment Between Supply and Demand of Quality Content in Peer Production Communities. Proceedings of ICWSM 2015. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
Paper PDF

ACM CHI 2015: Sen, S., Ford, H., Musicant, D., Graham, M., Keyes, O., and Hecht, B. 2015. Barriers to the Localness of Volunteered Geographic Information. Proceedings of CHI 2015. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF | Geoprovenance Algorithm Code | Geoprovenance Evaluation Dataset |
NEW: Interactive Version of Paper!
* Honorable Mention (Top 5% of Submissions)

ACM CHI 2015: Samsonov, P., Tang, X., Schöning, J., Kuhn, W., and Hecht, B. 2015. You Can't Smoke Here: Towards Support for Space Usage Rules in Location-aware Technologies. Proceedings of CHI 2015. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
Paper PDF

ACM CSCW 2015: Sen, S., Lesicko, M., Giesel, M., Gold, R., Hillman, B., Naden, S., Russell, J., Wang, Z., and Hecht, B. 2015. Turkers, Scholars, "Arafat" and "Peace": Cultural Communities and Algorithmic Gold Standards. Proceedings of CSCW 2015. New York: ACM Press.
* Best Paper Award Winner (Top 1% of Submissions)
Paper PDF | PluraSR200 Dataset | Semantic Relatedness Library

ACM CSCW 2015: Thebault-Spieker, J., Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. 2015. Avoiding the South Side and the Suburbs: The Geography of Mobile Crowdsourcing Markets. Proceedings of CSCW 2015. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

ACM CSCW 2015: Warncke-Wang, M., Ayukaev, V., Hecht, B., and Terveen, L. 2015. The Success and Failure of Quality Improvement Projects in Peer Production Communities. Proceedings of CSCW 2015. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

ACM SIGSPATIAL 2014: Stockx, T., Hecht, B., and Schöning, J. 2014. SubwayPS: Towards Enabling Smartphone Positioning in Underground Public Transportation Systems. Proceedings of ACM SIGSPATIAL 2014. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

WikiSym 2014: Sen, S., Li, T., Hecht, B. 2014. WikiBrain: Democratizing computation on Wikipedia. Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym / WikiSym 2014). New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF | API Website

AAAI ICWSM 2014: Hecht, B., Stephens, M. 2014. A Tale of Cities: Urban Biases in Volunteered Geographic Information. Proceedings of ICWSM 2014. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
Paper PDF | Blog Post

ACM DIS 2014: Schöning, J., Hecht, B., Kuhn, W. 2014. Informing Online and Mobile Map Design with the Collective Wisdom of Cartographers. Proceedings of DIS 2014. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

ACM GROUP 2014: Wang, T., Harper, F. M., Hecht, B. 2014. Designing Better Location Fields in User Profiles. Proceedings of GROUP 2014. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

ACM CHI 2014: Gao, T., Hullman, J., Adar, E., Hecht, B., Diakopoulos, N. 2014. NewsViews: An Automated Pipeline for Creating Custom Geovisualizations for News. Proceedings of CHI 2014. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

ACM CSCW 2014: Oeldorf-Hirsch, A., Hecht, B., Morris, M., Teevan, J., Gergle, D. 2014. To Search or to Ask: The Routing of Information Needs Between Traditional Search Engines and Social Networks. Proceedings of CSCW 2014. New York: ACM Press.
Paper PDF

PH.D. THESIS: Hecht, B. 2013. The Mining and Application of Diverse Cultural Perspectives in User-Generated Content. Northwestern University.
* Best Dissertation Award (Northwestern Elec. Engineering and Computer Science Department) Preprint PDF