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Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop 15362

Present and Future of Formal Argumentation

( Aug 30 – Sep 04, 2015 )


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Please use the following short url to reference this page: https://www.dagstuhl.de/15362

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Motivation

The establishment of formal argumentation as a main research topic in Artificial Intelligence in the last two decades lays on solid bases: A wealth of extensively studied theoretical models at different levels of abstraction, the increasing availability of efficient implementations of these models, a variety of experimental studies in application fields ranging from modeling dialogues on social networks to medical reasoning.

Argumentation models can capture diverse kinds of reasoning and dialogue activities in a formal and still quite intuitive way, thus enabling the integration of different specific techniques and the development of applications humans can trust. In order to be able to convert the opportunities of the present into actual results in the future, the formal argumentation research community needs however to reflect about the current assets and weaknesses of the field and to identify suitable strategies to leverage the former and to tackle the latter. As an example, the definition of standard modeling languages and of reference sets of benchmark problems are still in their infancy, reference texts for newcomers are missing, the study of methodological guidelines for the use of theoretical models in actual applications is a largely open research issue.

This Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop aims at collecting the world leading experts in formal argumentation in order to develop a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the current state of the research in this field and to draw accordingly some strategic lines to ensure its successful development in the future. This should lead to one key outcome, namely a Dagstuhl Manifesto, which includes research directions that are put into a larger context, like its relevance for society and economy, applications, and relations to other fields. Its audience goes beyond the inner circle of experts and should include policy makers.

We foresee at least the following topics to be discussed during the workshop:

  • Critical evaluation of Dung’s theory of abstract argumentation
  • Instantiated argumentation
  • Systems, tools and requirements
  • Algorithms and complexity
  • Relation between informal and formal argumentation
  • Connections
  • Dialogues
  • Extensions
  • Dynamics
  • Applications

Summary

Diverse kinds of reasoning and dialogue activities can be captured by argumentation models in a formal and still quite intuitive way, thus enabling the integration of different specific techniques and the development of applications humans can trust. Formal argumentation lays on solid bases, such as extensively studied theoretical models at different levels of abstraction, efficient implementations of these models, as well as a variety of experimental studies in several application fields. In order to be able to convert the opportunities of the present into actual results in the future, the formal argumentation research community needs however to reflect about the current assets and weaknesses of the field and to identify suitable strategies to leverage the former and to tackle the latter. As an example, the definition of standard modeling languages and of reference sets of benchmark problems are still in their infancy, reference texts for newcomers are missing, the study of methodological guidelines for the use of theoretical models in actual applications is a largely open research issue.

The goal of this Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop was to gather the world leading experts in formal argumentation in order to develop a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the current state of the research in this field and to draw accordingly some strategic lines to ensure its successful development in the future.

The Perspectives Workshop was held between August 30 to September 4, 2015, with 22 participants from 10 countries. With the aim of developing a critical survey of the field for the argumentation community and for potential newcomers, the organizers agreed to assemble a handbook of formal argumentation, and encouraged participants to present their view on different topics in the area. Besides individual presentations, the program included collective discussions on general issues arising from individual presentations, as well as working groups.

Individual presentations concerned introductory overviews, logical problems and requirements for formal argumentation, specific formalisms and methodologies, relationship between different approaches and applications. While a limit of half an hour per talk was initially established, we decided to leave the time for discussion relatively open, since several open topics and new developments were envisaged out of presentations.

Collective discussions have been arranged along four topics, i.e. basic concepts and foundations, specific formalisms for argumentation, algorithms, and connections both inside the argumentation field and with outside research topics.

We organized three discussion groups each headed by one organizer (see Section 4). Each group was asked to identify the most important open problems in argumentation. Interestly enough, there was little intersection between the three outcomes, i.e. the three groups came out with different problems. Many of them concerned foundational issues of the theory, e.g, how to formally represent various kinds of arguments and how to identify sets of postulates on the reasoning activity over arguments in specific contexts. On the other hand, the relationship between argumentation and other research fields (e.g. natural language processing, machine learning, human computer interaction, social choice) was seen to be of major importance, especially to develop more applications.

The unique setting and atmosphere of Dagstuhl provided the ideal environment to exchange ideas on future directions of argumentation, with discussions often lasting all the evening and the first part of the night.

The Perspectives Workshop concluded with the presentation of the results yielded by the group discussions, that in our opinion will lead to collaborative research, scientific papers and funded international projects in the future.

Copyright Dov M. Gabbay, Massimiliano Giacomin, Beishui Liao, and Leon van der Torre

Participants
  • Pietro Baroni (University of Brescia, IT) [dblp]
  • Ringo Baumann (Universität Leipzig, DE) [dblp]
  • Stefano Bistarelli (University of Perugia, IT) [dblp]
  • Alexander Bochman (Holon Institute of Technology, IL) [dblp]
  • Gerhard Brewka (Universität Leipzig, DE) [dblp]
  • Katarzyna Budzynska (Polish Academy of Sciences - Warsaw, PL) [dblp]
  • Martin Caminada (University of Aberdeen, GB) [dblp]
  • Federico Cerutti (University of Aberdeen, GB) [dblp]
  • Wolfgang Dvorak (Universität Wien, AT) [dblp]
  • Dov M. Gabbay (King's College London, GB) [dblp]
  • Massimiliano Giacomin (University of Brescia, IT) [dblp]
  • Tom Gordon (Fraunhofer FOKUS - Berlin, DE) [dblp]
  • Beishui Liao (Zhejiang University, CN) [dblp]
  • Henry Prakken (Utrecht University, NL) [dblp]
  • Chris Reed (University of Dundee, GB) [dblp]
  • Odinaldo Rodrigues (King's College - London, GB) [dblp]
  • Guillermo R. Simari (National University of the South - Bahía Blanca, AR) [dblp]
  • Matthias Thimm (Universität Koblenz-Landau, DE) [dblp]
  • Leon van der Torre (University of Luxembourg, LU) [dblp]
  • Bart Verheij (University of Groningen, NL) [dblp]
  • Emil Weydert (University of Luxembourg, LU) [dblp]
  • Stefan Woltran (TU Wien, AT) [dblp]

Classification
  • artificial intelligence / robotics

Keywords
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Knowledge Representation and Reasoning
  • Multi-Agent Systems
  • Argumentation
  • Non-monotonic Logic