Lena Pareto

Lena Pareto

Associate Professor in Informatics: University West

Lena Pareto is Associate Professor of Informatics at University West. A common theme running through her research is her interest in how difficult thought processes can be justified and supported using IT.

Mathematical computer game
Around the turn of the millennium, she developed a mathematical computer game for children. The game illustrates basic mathematics in a way that is easy to understand. It is called the Squares Family, since single units are shown as red squares, tens as orange squares and hundreds as yellow squares. Players can see how ten red squares are combined to form an orange square. One possible aim for two children playing is to combine as many squares as possible. The important thing is that they get a much better basic understanding of what the digits stand for in a number such as 222. Here we have three twos, but they mean very different things and this is not at all obvious to a beginner.

The rules of arithmetic are explained using the same principle. Addition involves adding squares, multiplication involves adding a certain number of squares a certain number of times, and so on. The game also illustrates positive and negative numbers in the same clear way. These are shown as red squares and blue squares respectively.

The idea of the Squares Family is that children who play the game should get a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. In a current research project, Dr Pareto is working with researchers in Sweden and the US to evaluate the Squares Family when it is introduced into schools in both countries. The Swedish National Agency for Education is funding a project that aims to introduce the Squares Family in many schools in the Swedish town of Uddevalla.

Virtual reality games for stroke patients
In another research project, Dr Pareto is working with researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg to develop a rehabilitation system for stroke patients. This is based on patients building up impaired intellectual abilities and locomotive power using various virtual reality games. The researchers are currently working to enable patients to use the system at home. This involves ensuring that the conditions are in place for patients and their therapists to hold computer-assisted remote meetings.

Dr Pareto completed her doctorate in 1995 at the University of Gothenburg/Chalmers University of Technology with her thesis The Implementation of ALF – A Proof Editor Based on Martin-Löf's Monomorphic Type Theory with Explicit Substitution. Her thesis work involved developing an interactive system to show that software is bug-free and works as it should. This is of crucial importance in software that is used in contexts where people's safety or significant values are at stake.

Dr Pareto has been at University West since 2003. She is the course manager for the Digital Media for Design of Experiences and Learning course.


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