Introduction

Argumentation theory, or Argumentation, is the interdisciplinary study of how conclusions can be reached through logical reasoning; that is, claims based, soundly or not, on premises. It includes the arts and sciences of civil debate, dialogue, conversation, and persuasion. Argumentation includes different forms of interactions, as, for instance negotiation, which is concerned with reaching mutually acceptable conclusions. It also encompasses eristic dialog, the branch of social debate in which victory over an opponent is the primary goal. Moreover, with persuasion, where two or more participants try to resolve a conflict of opinion, each trying to persuade the other participants to adopt their point of view The field of Argumentation in Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge Representation and Reasoning has grown significantly in the past few years resulting in a substantial body of work and well-established technical literature. It has strong connections to other areas of Computer Science, as Logic, Game Theory, and Graph Theory. A testimony to this importance is the appearance of several special issues in leading scientific journals and the increased number of workshops and conferences whose main topics include it (for instance, the program of IJCAI 2017 has twelve contributions with the word “Argumentation” in the title). At the same time, projects related to this filed seem to attract large investments from EU: a few examples of funded consortia are “Argumentation service platform with integrated components” (ASPIC) STREP project, “Argumentation as a foundation for the semantic grid” (ARGUGRID) STREP project, “Integrated Method for Policy Making Using Argument Modelling and Computer Assisted Text Analysis” (IMPACT) European Framework 7, and Cost Action IC0801 - Agreement Technologies.

Learning Objectives

In this course the students will get an overview over the actual research topics in the field of structured (premises and claims) and unstructured (Abstract) Argumentation. Each two-hour lecture will cover a different area of argumentation, with also connections to applications and tools. To summarize, PhD students can benefit from a course on this topic i) scientifically, because of its importance in the AI community, but also due to its strong connections to other areas in AI and Computer Science in general. Moreover, ii) Argumentation-related projects are already capable of attracting funds, and this will further improve in the next year due to the pressing need of debating-technologies at the core of social networks, in order to avoid fake news and the diffusion of disinformation. Finally, iii) students will have the chance to know and work with different programming-paradigms and related tools to solve combinatorial problems; such an experience will be useful for a career in the industry.

Examination Method

In this course the students will get an overview over the actual research topics in the field of structured (premises and claims) and unstructured (Abstract) Argumentation. Each two-hour lecture will cover a different field of Argumentation, with also connections to applications and tools. To summarize, PhD students can benefit from a course on this topic i) scientifically, because of its importance in the AI community, but also due to its strong connections to other areas in AI and Computer Science in general. Moreover, ii) Argumentation-related projects are already capable of attracting funds, and this will further improve in the next year due to the pressing need of debating-technologies at the core of social networks, in order to avoid fake news and the diffusion of disinformation. Finally, iii) students will have the chance to know and work with different programming-paradigms and related tools to solve combinatorial problems; such an experience will be useful for a career in the industry.

Program (6 CFU - 18 hours)

  1. Argumentation Theory
    • Introduction
    • Argumentation Schemes
    • Enthymemes and Fallacies
    • Applications
  2. Semantics of Abstract Argumentation Systems
    • Abstract Argumentation Frameworks
    • Principles of Extension and Labelled-based semantics
    • Justification state
    • A review of extension-based semantics
  3. Abstract Argumentation and Values
    • Value-based Argumentation Frameworks
    • Preference-based Argumentation Frameworks
    • Probabilistic Argumentation
  4. Ranking-based Semantics and Decision Making
    • For classical frameworks
    • For weighted frameworks
    • Frameworks for argumentative decision-making
  5. Argumentation based on Logic
    • Arguments and Counter-arguments
    • Canonical undercuts
    • Argument trees
    • Defeasible Logic Programming
  6. Tools
    • Constraint Programming
    • Answer Sat Programming
    • Boolean satisfiability (SAT)
    • Databases of arguments
  7. Argumentation and Game Theory
    • Introduction to Game Theory and Mechanism Design
    • Argumentation Mechanism Design
  8. Belief Revision and Argumentation Theory
    • Basic facts on Argumentation and Belief Revision
    • Other approaches in the literature
  9. Conclusions
    • Final remarks and conclusions
    • Assignments

Books

  • Rahwan, Iyad, and Guillermo R. Simari, eds. Argumentation in artificial intelligence. Vol. 47. Heidelberg: Springer, ISBN: 978-0387981963, 2009.
  • Walton, Douglas, Christopher Reed, and Fabrizio Macagno. Argumentation schemes. Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521723749, 2008.
  • Scientific papers from the recent literature on some specific topics. For instance Elise Bonzon, Jérôme Delobelle, Sébastien Konieczny, Nicolas Maudet: A Comparative Study of Ranking-Based Semantics for Abstract Argumentation. AAAI 2016: 914-920

Prerequisites

Some background in Logic is suggested, but not strongly required.

Francesco Santini