Featured Projects


The 3-year COUCH project is a European Project, funded under the Horizon-2020 framework, that aims to change the way we look at virtual coaching. The project will create an autonomous virtual council that can assist people in achieving their health goals. (More)

Argugrader is a web-based tool for educators that facilitates the automatic grading of argument analyses submitted by students. Student answers are compared to multiple model answers using charitable text- and graph-matching algorithms. (More)

The ARG-tech web services are a suite of APIs that bring together many of the Centre’s tools and frameworks for translating between argument representations, evaluating Dung-style and structured argumentation frameworks, and performing Argument Mining. (More)

Featured Publications

Argument Revision

M. Snaith and C. Reed

Journal of Logic and Computation

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Debating Technology for Dialogical Argument

J. Lawrence, M. Snaith, B. Konat, K. Budzynska and C. Reed

ACM Transactions on Internet Technology

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Implementing the Argument Web

F. Bex, J. Lawrence, M. Snaith and C. Reed

Communications of the ACM

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Research

My research interests lie in computational models of argument and dialogue, including but not limited to: argument dynamics and their use as a strategic tool in dialogue; extraction and analysis of dialogue structures; implementations of argumentation systems, such as ASPIC+.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Centre for Argument Technology (ARG-tech) at the University of Dundee, employed on the 3-year EU Horizon 2020-funded Council of Coaches project.

Previously, as part of my PhD research, I specified a model for Argument Revision for the ASPIC+ framework. I also developed TOAST, an implementation of the ASPIC+ framework, that is used by argumentation researchers worldwide.

I am also actively involved in the development of ArguBlogging and argugrader.

Publications

Projects

I’ve been involved in several different projects with ARG-tech, and the wider Discipline (formerly School) of Computing.

COUCH: Council of Coaches (2017-20)

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The 3-year COUCH project is a European Project, funded under the Horizon-2020 framework, that aims to change the way we look at virtual coaching. The project will create an autonomous virtual council that can assist people in achieving their health goals.

The Virtual Coaches will be able to operate as fully autonomous intelligent agents, and must learn how to use arguments to persuade the user and each other. The project advances the state of the art in multi-party argumentation and applies this technology to the domain of health and well-being.

More information is available from the Council of Coaches website

DrEAMS: Dialogue-based Exploration of Argument and Mediation Space (2013-16)

The 3-year DrEAMS project, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, aims to build a philosophically- and linguistically-grounded model of the mediation process, which will serve as a foundation for developing software tools that provide practical support to mediators in mapping and navigating the space of mediation.

More information is available from the DrEAMS project page.

Dialectical Argumentation Machines (DAM) (2009-12)

DAM was a £0.6m EPSRC-funded project which built the infrastructure for the Argument Web. My PhD in Argument Revision was funded by this project, and I implemented TOAST, an implementation of ASPIC+.

Online Visualisation of Argument (OVA) (2009)

The primary aim of OVA was to deploy tools for argument analysis and visualisation in an online environment. This led to the first version of the OVA analysis tool. Development of OVA was taken up by John Lawrence as part of the DAM project when I started my PhD.

Angus Articulation (2010)

A project away from ARG-tech whose aim was to help students of computing at Angus College articulate to advanced entry to Dundee’s BSc (Hons) Applied Computing degree.

Events

I have helped organise the following events:

Summer School on Argumentation:
Computational and Linguistic Perspectives (SSA 2014) (2014)

The Summer School on Argumentation: Computational and Linguistic Perspectives (SSA 2014) was hosted by the Centre for Argument Technology (ARG-tech) at the University of Dundee from Thursday September 4th – Monday September 8th 2014.

The main aim of the summer school was to provide attendees with a solid foundation in computational and linguistic aspects of argumentation and the emerging connections between the two. Furthermore, attendees also gained experience in using various tools for argument analysis and processing.

(Co-organisers: Katarzyna Budzynska and Mathilde Janier)

Website

Scottish Argumentation Day (2013)

The 2013 Scottish Argumentation Day was be hosted by ARG:dundee on Friday 19th July. The main aim of the day was to allow researchers in argumentation and related fields from across Scotland to come together and present their work in an informal setting. The day followed on from the successful first meeting held in Aberdeen in 2011.

Website

PhD Thesis

Title: Argument Revision and its Role in Dialogue

Supervisor: Prof. Chris Reed

Examiners: Prof. Guillermo Simari, UNS, Argentina & Dr. Keith Edwards, University of Dundee

Abstract:

In this thesis, a model for argument revision is presented, in terms of the expansion and contraction of a system of structured argumentation. At its core, the model uses the belief revision concept of minimal change, but without requiring a pre-determined entrenchment ordering to establish minimality.

In the first part of the thesis, a model for argument revision is defined and described. Specified in terms of the ASPIC+ framework for argumentation, the model is divided into two main concepts: argument expansion, whose goal is to make certain arguments acceptable in the system, possibly by adding them; and argument contraction, whose goal is to make certain arguments unacceptable in the system, possibly by removing them. The goal of a revision process can be achieved in multiple different ways, thus a method of choosing which, based on measures of minimal change, is also specified. The second part of the thesis demonstrates two applications of the model in the context of multi-agent dialogue. The first is used to assist a participant when faced with a need to update its commitment store during persuasion dialogue, while the second shows how a participant can use argument revision techniques to both assess and maintain a lie.The main contributions of the thesis are twofold. First, the characterisation of a model for argument revision, based on established belief revision principles but with a key difference. The model for argument revision demonstrates how it is possible to use measurable effects on the system when determining minimal change instead of relying on a pre-determined, qualitative entrenchment ordering.Second, the thesis demonstrates two applications of argument revision in dialogue. The first is in assisting an agent in retracting a commitment that has been defeated, and for which it can offer no defence. When retracting a claim, the participant may also be required to retract other claims from which the defeated one is a consequence. Applying argument revision techniques allow the participant to reason about what constitutes a minimal set of retractions, in terms of current commitments and potential future communications in the dialogue.The second dialogical application relates to the opposite of retraction; instead of choosing to retract an undefended claim, the participant could instead choose to lie in order to defend it. Argument revision allows the participant to not only assess whether or not lying is “minimal” (compared to retracting), but to also to maintain the lie, by using the measures of minimal change.

Overall, the thesis shows that not only is justifiable argument revision possible without relying on a pre-determined entrenchment ordering, it is also a powerful tool for participants in a dialogue, assisting with dialogue move selection.

PDF: Available from Discovery Research Portal

Contact

m.snaith [at] dundee.ac.uk

+44 (0)1382 386583

marksnaith

@marksnaith

marksnaith

Dr Mark Snaith
Centre for Argument Technology
Room 2.05, Queen Mother Building
School of Science and Engineering
University of Dundee
DUNDEE
DD1 4HN
United Kingdom