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Collaborative theory construction: towards a conversational abstract machine

Abstract : Our work aims at assisting people in the collaborative building of a theory in such a way that each individual formulates and empirically tests his own partial understanding and can without extra effort contribute to a testable theory shared by the whole group.
A multi-disciplinary survey touching on the underlying biological mechanisms supporting cognition, linguistic communication as a means for sharing and formalizing, and the theory building process, leads to a series of requirements for an ‘abstract machine' able to compose partial theories within a conversation.
The ‘Austin' abstract machine is then fully specified; it is based on three speech acts: ‘assertives', ‘directives' and ‘commissives'. ‘Conversational patterns' concurrently achieve the processing of information inside Austin. Some good properties are demonstrated: end in finite time, confluence (the result is not affected by the concurrency), reasonable complexity, natural composition of programs recognized by the abstract machine, graphical analysis facilities. A generative grammar based on conceptual graphs is proposed for the sentences embedded in the speech acts. ‘Collaboratively solving a Sudoku' illustrates this grammar, then is implemented on Java prototype of the abstract machine.
By comparison to ‘concurrent logic programming', and then to ‘blackboard architecture', ‘Austin' appears as a trade-off between the controllability of the declarative paradigm and the expressivity of the imperative techniques.
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Contributor : Cirad Lemoisson <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 1, 2007 - 3:33:00 PM
Last modification on : Friday, October 23, 2020 - 4:41:47 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 2:36:10 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-00128516, version 1



Philippe Lemoisson. Collaborative theory construction: towards a conversational abstract machine. Software Engineering [cs.SE]. Université Montpellier II - Sciences et Techniques du Languedoc, 2006. English. ⟨tel-00128516⟩



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