BiCi Seminar "Frontiers and Connections between Argumentation Theory and Natural Language Processing"

Bertinoro, Italy
Date
July 20th-25th, 2014
Location
Bertinoro International Center for Informatics (BiCi)
Bertinoro, Italy
The seminar will be held in the BiCi, which is located in the small medieval hilltop town of Bertinoro, Italy, about 50km east of Bologna. The town is picturesque. Meetings are held in an archiepiscopal castle that has been converted into a modern conference center.
Context
Large amounts of text are added to the Web daily from social media, web-based commerce, scientific papers, eGovernment consultations, etc. Such texts are used to make decisions in the sense that people read the texts, carry out some informal analysis, and then (in the best case) make a decision; for example, a consumer might read the comments on an Amazon website about a camera before deciding what camera to buy. The problem is that the information is distributed, unstructured, and not cumulative. In addition, the argument structure – justifications for a claim and criticisms – might be implicit or explicit within some document, but harder to discern across documents. The sheer volume of information overwhelms users. Given all these problems, reasoning about arguments on the web is currently infeasible.
A solution to these problems would be to develop tools to aggregate, synthesize, structure, summarize, and reason about arguments in texts. Such tools would enable users to search for particular topics and their justifications, trace through the argument (justifications for justifications and so on), as well as to systematically and formally reason about the graph of arguments. By doing so, a user would have a better, more systematic basis for making a decision. However, deep, manual analysis of texts is time-consuming, knowledge intensive, and thus unscalable. To acquire, generate, and transmit the arguments, we need scalable machine-based or machine-supported approaches to extract arguments. The application of tools to mine arguments would be very broad and deep given the variety of contexts where arguments appear and the purposes they are put to.
On the one hand, text analysis is a promising approach to identify and extract arguments from text, receiving attention from the natural language processing community. For example, there are approaches on argumentation mining of legal documents, on-line debates, product reviews, newspaper articles, court cases, scientific articles, and other areas. On the other hand, computational models of argumentation have made substantial progress in providing abstract, formal models to represent and reason over complex argumentation graphs. The literature covers alternative models, a range of semantics, complexity, and formal dialogues. Yet, there needs to be progress not only within each domain, but in bridging between textual and abstract representations of argument so as to enable reasoning from source text.
To make progress and realize automated argumentation, a range of interdisciplinary approaches, skills, and collaborations are required, covering natural language processing technology, linguistic theories of syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse, domain knowledge such as law and science, computer science techniques in artificial intelligence, argumentation theory, and computational models of argumentation.
Objectives and Outcomes
The objective of the seminar is to gather an interdisciplinary group of scholars together for an extended, collaborative discussion about the various aspects of connecting argumentation and natural language processing. The intended outcome of the seminar is a roadmap that outlines the state-of-the art, identifies key problems and issues, and suggests approaches to addressing them. More precisely, theseminar is conceived for the writing of a monograph “A Prospective View of Argumentation Theory and Natural Language Processing” that should become a standard reference in the field and should provide guidelines for future research by putting that activity in focus and identify the most significant research issues in combining these two research fields. This roadmap will have several sections authored by the participants at the seminar and edited by the seminar organizers.
Format and Process
The seminar will adopt a structure, where personal interaction and open discussion are prominent, emphasizing discussion of results, ideas, sketches, works in progress, and open problems. Participants will be requested to prepare individual contributions around specific topics (see a tentative list below) so that the outcome of the workshop will constitute a roadmap for the area to be published in the near future. The allocation of topics as well as the mechanism for compiling and elaborating contributions into a coherent draft — that will form the working document for the workshop — will be made known in a future communication to those individuals who accept to participate in this workshop.
Currently we have identified the following areas of research to be presented for discussion at the workshop (and we welcome suggestions about additional topics):

  • Automatic identification of argument elements and relationships between arguments in a document;
  • Argumentation and negation & contrariness;
  • Argumentation and discourse;
  • Argumentation and dialogue;
  • Approaches combining NLP methods and argumentation frameworks;
  • Creation/evaluation of high quality annotated natural language corpora to prove argumentative models on naturally occurring data, or to train automatic systems on tasks related to argumentation (e.g. arguments detection).
  • Applications of argumentation mining: summarization, extraction, visualization, retrieval;

Organizers
Elena Cabrio
INRIA Sophia-Antipolis Mediterranee, France
elena.cabrio@inria.fr
http://www-sop.inria.fr/members/Elena.Cabrio
Serena Villata
INRIA Sophia-Antipolis Mediterranee, France
serena.villata@inria.fr
http://www-sop.inria.fr/members/Serena.Villata
Adam Wyner
University of Aberdeen, Scotland
azwyner@abdn.ac.uk
http://wyner.info/LanguageLogicLawSoftware
Structure of Position Paper Submissions
Participants will be expected to submit position papers (with references) prior to the seminar. Submissions details will be discussed over the course of the seminar. The seminar organizers will facilitate a fruitful exchange of ideas and information in order to integrate the discussion topics.
Position papers should follow the two-column format of ACL 2014 proceedings without exceeding eight (6) pages of content plus two extra pages for references. We strongly recommend the use of ACL LaTeX style files. Submissions must conform to the official style guidelines, which are contained in the ACL style files, and they must be in PDF.
Subsequent to the seminar, draft roadmap documents will be circulated amongst the participants for further discussion and prior to submission for publication. We plan to publish the roadmap in a volume of the CEUR workshop proceedings series. In addition, we have a journal that has agreed to publish a special issue based on expanded and revised versions of the material presented at the workshop.
Organizational Issues
The total registration fees for each person for the whole stay (arrival Sunday evening – departure Friday after lunch) are 600 Euro. Participants pay their own costs; however, organizers are seeking funding to defray the expenses. We will update as information becomes available. Fees include seminar registration, accommodation, WiFi and meals (included an excursion and the social dinner).
BiCi Registration
Shortlink

Paper in CLIMA XIV Special Session on Argumentation

I’m co-author of a paper in the special session on argumentation at The 14th International Workshop on Computational Logic in Multi-Agent Systems, Corunna, Spain, September 16-18, 2013.
La Coruna Photos
This photo of La Coruna courtesy of TripAdvisor
On the Instantiation of Knowledge Bases in Abstract Argumentation Frameworks
Adam Wyner, Trevor Bench-Capon, and Paul Dunne
Abstract
Abstract Argumentation Frameworks (AFs) provide a fruitful basis for exploring issues of defeasible reasoning. Their power largely derives from the abstract nature of the arguments within the framework, where arguments are atomic nodes in an undifferentiated relation of attack. This abstraction conceals different conceptions of argument, and concrete instantiations encounter difficulties as a result of conflating these conceptions. We distinguish three distinct senses of the term. We provide an approach to instantiating AFs in which the nodes are restricted to literals and rules, encoding the underlying theory directly. Arguments, in each of the three senses, then emerge from this framework as distinctive structures of nodes and paths. Our framework retains the theoretical and computational benefits of an abstract AF, while keeping notions distinct which are conflated in other approaches to instantiation.
Bibtex
@INPROCEEDINGS{WynerBench-CaponDunne2013,
author = {Adam Wyner and Trevor Bench-Capon and Paul Dunne},
title = {On the Instantiation of Knowledge Bases in Abstract Argumentation Frameworks},
booktitle = {Proceedings of 14th International Workshop on Computational Logic in Multi-Agent Systems},
year = {2013},
publisher = {Springer},
series = {LNCS},
pages = {??-??},
note = {To appear}
}
Presentation slides for “On the Instantiation of Knowledge Bases in Abstract Argumentation Frameworks”
Shortlink to this page.
By Adam Wyner

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Argumentation and Linguistics Tutorial at ACAI 2013

I presented a tutorial on Argumentation and Linguistics at the Advanced Course on Artificial Intelligence (ACAI 2013) held at the Department of Informatics, King’s College London. The course focussed on Argumentation and Artificial Intelligence. From the description:

The ACAI Summer School 2013 (ACAI 2013) will be held at at King’s College London, UK, from the 1st July to the 5th July 2013 and is on the topic of Argumentation in Artificial Intelligence. Computational models of argument, and the development of agreement technologies, is becoming an important area in artificial intelligence. The aim of the summer school is to provide the attendees with a solid grounding in the basic ideas in formal modelling of argumentation, dialogue, and negotiation. Furthermore, there will be a programme of lectures on application areas, lab sessions on software developments, and lectures linking with areas in AI and beyond.

There were about 40 students in attendance. The ACAI course on argumentation covered a good, broad range of topics, presented by my european colleagues. The core of the programme consisted of four main speakers who gave 6 hours of lectures:

  • Pietro Baroni (Universit√† degli Studi di Brescia) on Abstract Argumentation
  • Philippe Besnard (Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse) on Logic-Based Argumentation
  • Nicolas Maudet (University Pierre et Marie Curie) on Negotiation
  • Simon Parsons (University of Liverpool) on Dialogue

There were also presentations on applications of argumentation and agreement technologies:

  • Leila Amgoud (Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse) on Argumentation in Decision-Making
  • Katie Atkinson (University of Liverpool) on Argumentation in eGovernment
  • John Fox (University of Oxford) on Argumentation in Medicine
  • Nir Oren (University of Aberdeen) on Argumentation in Planning
  • Henry Prakken (Utrecht University) on Argumentation in Law
  • Chris Reed (University of Dundee) on Argumentation on the Web
  • Stefan Woltran (Vienna University of Technology) on Implementation of Argumentation
  • Adam Wyner (University of Aberdeen) on Argumentation and Linguistics

The slides of my talk are available on the link:
Argumentation and Linguistics
Adam Wyner
Shortlink to this page.
By Adam Wyner

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Paper at RuleML Special Session on Human-Rules

I’m co-author of a paper in the special session Human-Rules at The 7th International Web Rule Symposium (RuleML 2013), Seattle, Washington, USA.
Seattle, Washington, USA
A Study on Translating Regulatory Rules from Natural Language to Defeasible Logic
Adam Wyner and Guido Governatori
Abstract
Legally binding regulations are expressed in natural language. Yet, we cannot formally or automatically reason with regulations in that form. Defeasible Logic has been used to formally represent the semantic interpretation of regulations; such representations may provide the abstract specification for a machine-readable and processable representation as in LegalRuleML. However, manual translation is prohibitively costly in terms of time, labour, and knowledge. The paper discusses work in progress using the state-of-the-art in automatic translation of a sample of regulatory clauses to a machine readable formal representation and a comparison to correlated Defeasible Logic representations. It outlines some key problems and proposes tasks to address the problems.
Bibtex
@INPROCEEDINGS{WynerGovernatoriH-R2013,
author = {Adam Wyner and Guido Governatori},
title = {A Study on Translating Regulatory Rules from Natural Language to Defeasible Logic},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the {R}ule{ML} 2013},
publisher = {{CEUR}},
year = {2013},
pages = {??-??},
address = {Seattle, Washington, USA},
note = {To appear}
}
Shortlink to this page.
By Adam Wyner

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

BBC's Radio 4 on Vagueness in Law

On the BBC Radio 4 Analysis program, there was an episode about the Sorities Paradoxes. These are the sorts of paradoxes that arise about categories that have no sharp boundaries:

One grain of sand is not a heap of sand; two grains of sand are not a heap of sand; …. ; adding one more grain of sand to some sand is not enough to make a heap of sand; yet, at some point, we agree we have a heap of sand.

So, where are the boundaries?
Part of what is interesting to me is that while we might have problems to provide a formal, systematic analysis, we seem to have strong intuitions that are (more or less, and in fact more, where all things are otherwise equal) in agreement with the intuitions of others.
In law, such issues about vagueness also arise, and they lead to legal contention, so are important to decide. In this radio broadcast, there is a fun discussion of the sorities paradoxes and some mention of how legislators address them; in particular, just how can legislators ‘define’ nudity?
Analysis Extra: The Philosopher’s Arms: Sorites’ Heap 10 Sep 2012
The program is about 30 minutes long and should play in your browser. The broadcast content is copyright the BBC. Radio 4 is great!

Presentations at CMNA 2012 and RuleML 2012

I have gave a talk about my paper at the ECAI workshop on Computational Models of Natural Argumentation 2012 and also presented an invited talk at the RuleML 2012 conference. The PDFs of these talks are below.
Questions, arguments, and natural language semantics
Translating Rules in Natural Language to RuleML
Shortlink to this page.
By Adam Wyner

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Article in Artificial Intelligence and Law Journal for the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law

A forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Law will be a long multi-author paper that celebrates 25 years of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Law.
A History of AI and Law in 50 Papers: 25 years of the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Law
Bench-Capon et al.
Journal of Artificial Intelligence and Law
To appear.
Each of the authors who contributed to the special issue wrote about a paper from the conference from this 25 year period.
For this special issue, I wrote three sections:

The long paper itself serves as an excellent overview of the field these many years.
Shortlink to this page.
By Adam Wyner

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The Summer School on Law and Logic, Florence, Italy

I will be participating as a teaching assistant in the Summer School on Law and Logic in Florence, Italy, July 16-20, 2012. The school is jointly hosted by the European University Institute and the Harvard Law School.
From the description:

The Summer School on Law and Logic is the first course ever to provide a comprehensive introduction to the wide variety of uses of logic in the law. Our aim at this Summer School is to provide law students, graduate law students, and legal professionals with a knowledge of the methods of formal logic and the ability to apply those methods to the analysis and critical evaluation of legal arguments and sources of law (including statutes, cases, regulations, constitutional provisions).
The Summer School includes the basics of propositional and predicate deductive logic, as well as the use of logic for capturing representing deontic and Hohfeldian modalities, analogical reasoning and inference to the best explanation. It also addresses presents some aspects of non-deductive reasoning in law, such as defeasible reasoning, including argumentation schemes and inductive reasoning.
We believe that the kind of background in formal logic we offer in this course can be a very powerful tool for use in legal theory, for developing doctrinal legal research, for working in legal informatics (the application of computer programs to the analysis of law), and, more generally, for the practice of law.

This is an innovative school about core issues and approaches in Artificial Intelligence and Law. For me, it will be an opportunity to connect with familiar colleagues, work with new ones, and find out what lawyers think about formal logic. In addition, some of the legal materials that we will be analysing will be new to me, so that will be instructive.
I hope that this school is the beginning of an integration of AI into law school education.
Shortlink to this page.
By Adam Wyner

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New publication in AAAI Symposium

I and my colleagues have a paper forthcoming in the proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium (November 2009) The Uses of Computational Argumentation. Trevor will have the honours of making the presentation at the symposium. Below please find a link to the paper and an abstract.
Cheers,
Adam Wyner
Instantiating Knowledge Bases in Abstract Argumentation Frameworks
Adam Wyner
University College London
Trevor Bench-Capon and Paul Dunne
University of Liverpool
Abstract
Abstract Argumentation Frameworks (AFs) provide a fruitful basis for exploring issues of defeasible reasoning. Their power largely derives from the abstract nature of the arguments within the framework, where arguments are atomic nodes in an undifferentiated relation of attack. This abstraction conceals different conceptions of argument, and concrete instantiations encounter difficulties as a result of conflating these conceptions. We distinguish three distinct senses of the term. We provide an approach to instantiating AFs in which the nodes are restricted to literals and rules, encoding the underlying theory directly. Arguments, in each of the three senses, then emerge from this framework as distinctive structures of nodes and paths. Our framework retains the theoretical and computational benefits of an abstract AF, while keeping notions distinct which are conflated in other approaches to instantiation.