Seasoned senators, say

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Possible Answers: POLS.

Last seen on: LA Times Crossword 2 Apr 2018, Monday

Random information on the term “POLS”:

The principle of least astonishment (POLA) (alternatively “principle/law/rule of least astonishment/surprise”) applies to user interface and software design, from the ergonomics standpoint.

A typical formulation of the principle, from 1984, is: “If a necessary feature has a high astonishment factor, it may be necessary to redesign the feature.”

In general engineering design contexts, the principle can be taken to mean that a component of a system should behave in a manner consistent with how users of that component are likely to expect it to behave; that is, users should not be astonished at the way it behaves.[citation needed]


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A textbook formulation is: “People are part of the system. The design should match the user’s experience, expectations, and mental models.”

The choice of “least surprising” behavior can depend on the expected audience (for example, end users, programmers, or system administrators).

In more practical terms, the principle aims to exploit pre-existing knowledge of users to minimize the learning curve, for instance by designing interfaces that borrow heavily from “functionally similar or analogous programs with which your users are likely to be familiar”. User expectations in this respect may be closely related to a particular computing platform or tradition. For example, Unix command line programs are expected to follow certain conventions with respect to switches, and widgets of Microsoft Windows programs are expected to follow certain conventions with respect to keyboard shortcuts. In more abstract settings like an API, the expectation that function or method names intuitively match their behavior is another example. This practice also involves the application of sensible defaults.

POLS on Wikipedia