[Elsnet-list] PhD announcement on argumentation and computational linguistics

Stergos D. Afantenos stergos.afantenos at irit.fr
Mon Mar 11 13:18:26 CET 2013

Research Institute: IRIT, CNRS & Université Paul Sabatier, France

Supervisors: Leila Amgoud, Nicholas Asher, Stergos Afantenos

TITLE: Argumentation in Dialogue

In a persuasion dialogue, participants often have conflicting opinions
and everyone tries to convince others. This involves an exchange of
arguments which may be in conflict or not. Such a dialogue ends with
either a failure, where the disagreement persists, or agreement.

Persuasion dialogues interest linguists as well as researchers in
Artificial Intelligence (AI). The first develop theories of discourse
and dialogue. These theories allow fine linguistic analysis of texts,
and in particular analysis of the arguments present therein. The
linguistic foundations enable empirical analysis of the arguments
where the goal is the automatic extraction of the relational structure
that underpins those arguments.  As far as AI is concerned, the focus
is on developing models of argumentation and criteria for evaluating
them. Arguments are often seen as abstract entities whose origin and
nature are undefined.

The PhD thesis we propose puts both expertise together in order to
build models of argumentation and in accordance with rich dialogues in
natural language. The thesis will first examine the state of the art
in both areas, and build bridges between them. Discourse theories will
give the argumentation theory rich data with a semantic and logical
analysis. These data concern both the arguments and the relationships
that exist between them. This in turn helps define appropriate
criteria for evaluating arguments. These criteria are validated in the
texts. The osmosis might also happen the other way around, where
argumentation theory might enhance and inform discourse analysis.

The final theory that will result will have to be empirically
validated using Machine Learning approaches. The problem of
identifying the underlying argumentation structure is an extremely
attractive one, since it involves not simply the prediction of
isolated arguments or relations but instead the prediction of the
whole argumentation graph. By consequence methods from structured
prediction will need to be exploited.

Funding will be provided either by the French ministry of education
and research or in the context of the ERC-Advanced Researcher Grant
269427, STAC (Strategic Conversation).

- Master's degree in computational linguistics, machine learning or a
related field
- excellent record of undergraduate and Master's level study
- experience in one or more of the following areas:
formal/lexical/computational semantics, machine learning
- programming experience
- ability to work in a research team
- good command of English or French.

Please send your application to: Leila Amgoud <Leila.Amgoud at irit.fr>,
Nicholas Asher <Nicholas.Asher at irit.fr> and Stergos D. Afantenos
<stergos.afantenos at irit.fr> providing a CV and a short statement of
research interests. Review of applications will start on MArch 2013
and continue until the position is filled.

IRIT, CNRS/Université Paul Sabatier http://www.irit.fr/

About Toulouse:
Toulouse is ideally situated in the heart of Southern France, between
the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean and very close to the
Pyrenees mountains, Spain and Andorra. For more information:


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