Modelling Interaction, Dialog, Social Choice, and Vagueness

The cross-CRP workshop "Modelling Interaction, Dialog, Social Choice, and Vagueness (MIDiSoVa)" will take place at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the University of Amsterdam on 26-28 March 2010.

Members of the CFSC, DiFoS, LINT and VAAG LogICCC projects will participate in this workshop, organized by Jouko Väänänen, which aims to further cross-CRP cooperation.

Four external experts, chosen among the top in their respective fields, will participate to the workshop: Samson Abramsky, Wilfrid Hodges, Ewan Klein and Jean-François Laslier.

The UvA hosts members of four deeply related research projects, all of whom approach - from different starting points, and according to distinctive methodologies and competences - essentially the same problem area.

Therefore, Amsterdam is an ideal location for a joint workshop on the common theme of "Modelling Interaction, Dialog, Social Choice and Vagueness". Such a meeting, by offering CRP representatives an opportunity to share their current results and discuss their research programmes, is expected to set in motion a wealth of fruitful collaborative activities along the many mutual lines of investigation of the four projects.

The computational bases of social choice, the theories of vagueness, dialogical semantics and the mathematical foundations of interaction, indeed, are topics for delving in which it is not sufficient to build over socially inspired, multi agent metaphors: it is vital to reify these metaphors, bringing them into the very foundational heart of formal logic from whence they can highlight previously unforeseeable generalizations and further the development of a general theory of interaction.

This foundational audacity, combined with the diverse and highly developed technical abilities which are distributed among the projects' members and with the outstanding similarity of some of the proposed theoretical innovations, makes the prospect of a common workshop for the four programmes strikingly promising.

Already, subtle but surprisingly tenacious threads tie together these vibrant avenues of research: by boosting intra-project cooperation and promoting the research of analogies and connections between our thematic areas, we aim to settle the foundations for a theory of interaction modeling, which would be sure to prove itself an invaluable research tool for all of our more specific areas of interest.

Vagueness, whose role in a general theory of cognition is being investigated by the VAAG project, is of pivotal importance for the study of the computational foundations of social choice, and in particular for the development of a logic-based language capable of manipulating underspecified preference structures; and, on the other hand, the algorithmic requirements of collective decision making and preference learning promise to explain, at least in part, why vagueness appears to be a pervasive aspect of collective enterprises such as the pragmatic rulesets of natural languages.

The analysis of these linguistic aspects may also benefit from new logical tools, whose formal languages incorporate the very dialogical heart of natural language interaction: thus, the new developments in the foundations of semantics which the DiFoS project is introducing are of definite interest for the more applied topics mentioned above.

Conversely, the psychological and computational issues investigated by CFSC and VAAG are a vital source of intuition for the dialogical/game-theoretic semantics of formal languages, and as such they will be precious for the synthesis of a high level, mathematical theory of multi-agent interaction.

The first prototypes of such a theory, which are currently being developed by the LINT project through a combination of Game Theory and mathematical logic, would be of the utmost value for the study of social choice, vagueness and dialogue: in particular, dialogue semantics are, both historically and from a technical point of view, very close relatives of game-theoretic semantics, some far-reaching generalizations of which play a crucial role in many innovative models of interaction.

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