In this paper, we present a semi-automated, “human-in-the-loop” framework for attribute design that assists human analysts to transform raw attributes into effective derived attributes for classification problems. Our proposed framework is optimization guided and fully agnostic to the underlying classification model. We present an algebra with various operators (arithmetic, relational, and logical) to transform raw attributes into derived attributes and solve two technical problems: (a) the top-k buckets design problem aims at presenting human analysts with k buckets, each bucket containing promising choices of raw attributes that she can focus on only without having to look at all raw attributes; and (b) the top-l snippets generation problem, which iteratively aids human analysts with top-l derived attributes involving an attribute. For the former problem, we present an effective exact bottom-up algorithm that is empowered by pruning capability, as well as random walk based heuristic algorithms that are intuitive and work well in practice. For the latter, we present a greedy heuristic algorithm that is scalable and effective. Rigorous evaluations are conducted involving 6 different real world datasets to showcase that our framework generates effective derived attributes compared to fully manual or fully automated methods.