3 year PhD studentship to start as soon as possible
Human-Agent Collaboration for Distributed Sensemaking and Action
This exciting PhD project is a collaboration between the Hypermedia
Discourse research programme at the Knowledge Media Institute, Open
University UK, and the Brahms agent-based Work Systems Simulation
activity in Human-Centered Computing at NASA Ames Research Center.
The successful candidate will join a team with an international
reputation and established collaboration track record, based at the
Knowledge Media Institute, receiving world class doctoral training,
and working closely with NASA using e-PhD collaboration tools
including funding for NASA placements.
In many fields, cross-disciplinary teams must collectively making
sense of complex, changing, potentially ambiguous information, often
under time pressure (e.g. in scenario analysis, collaborative
learning, space exploration, science teams, emergency response,
strategic planning, intelligence analysis). As we tackle problems of
an unprecedented scale and complexity, new tools are needed to bring
stakeholders together for effective dialogue, analysis and
This project will integrate and extend two productive streams of work.
Mapping dialogue and argumentation. Joint work between KMi, NASA and
other partners has developed a methodology and visual knowledge
management software tool called Compendium. Compendium supports the
creation of many kinds of conceptual map, both informal and formal.
Conversational Modelling is an approach to capture, structure and
index the deliberations and multimedia documents in meetings, from
informal brainstorming, to opportunistic and intentional dialogue, to
structured modelling of a problem. Compendium has built up a global
user community who apply it in diverse fields, and has been used at
NASA in field trials simulating Earth/Mars-based science teams (see
papers below), collaborative workflow modelling of Shuttle launch
procedures, and knowledge capture from an expert workshop.
Applications at the Open University include scenario planning,
concept and argument mapping in e-learning, and the design of
multimedia learning activities. Web tools for collaborative inquiry
extend these capabilities for 'open sensemaking communities' who work
over time and space to map the connections between ideas and
arguments as they address wicked problems. KMi has developed proof of
concept demonstrators such as ClaiMaker for internet science
publishing and argumentation, and will shortly release its follow-on,
Agent-based modelling of work activities. The Brahms agent-based Work
Systems Simulation activity in Human-Centered Computing at NASA Ames
Research Center has developed an approach to modelling work
processes, and an architecture for integrating technologies in their
support. This was demonstrated at scale in the Mobile Agents project
(see papers below) in collaboration with KMi. For more information
about Brahms and for a free download of Brahms for research purpose,
please go to http://www.agentisolutions.com.
The project leaders and supervision team are Simon Buckingham Shum
(KMi) and Maarten Sierhuis (NASA).
What will scientific publishing, collaborative modelling, or internet
argumentation look like when ideas might be agents, arguments can be
monitored, and agents can provide active support to analysts working
over time and space? What are the human and computing challenges, how
would you investigate them, and how would you validate your work?
We invite candidates to read the linked resources, and write a
research proposal following the guidelines.
...passionate about developing tools for mapping human knowledge, and
inventing and understanding new kinds of user experience with
software agents. You will have a keen interest in human-centred
computing, bringing Java and/or Web programming skills, and a
relevant background in one or more of: multi-agent systems,
conceptual modelling, argumentation, knowledge engineering,
collaboration tools, user interface design, usability evaluation. You
will be a team player, capable of working collaboratively at a
distance and across timezones, but able to initiate new ideas, and
work to agreed objectives.
Buckingham Shum, S. (2007). Cohere: Towards Web 2.0 Argumentation.
Submitted to COMMA'08: 2nd Int. Conf. Computational Modelling in
Buckingham Shum, S., et al. (2006). Hypermedia Support for
Argumentation-Based Rationale: 15 Years on from gIBIS and QOC. In:
Rationale Management in Software Engineering, Allen H. Dutoit,
Raymond McCall, Ivan Mistrik, and Barbara , Paech, Eds.: Springer-
Verlag, 2006, pp. 111-132.
Clancey, W.J., et al. (2005). Automating CapCom Using Mobile Agents
and Robotic Assistants. In Proceedings 1st Space Exploration
Conference, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 31
Jan - 1 Feb, 2005, Orlando, FL. Available from: AIAA Meeting Papers
on Disc [CD-ROM]: Reston, VA, and as AKT-IRC ePrint 375
Clancey, W. J, P. Sachs, M. Sierhuis, and R. van Hoof. (1998).
Brahms: Simulating practice for work systems design, International
Journal on Human-Computer Studies, vol. 49, pp. 831-865.
CoAKTinG/Mobile Agents website: http://kmi.open.ac.uk/projects/
Sierhuis, M. and Buckingham Shum, S. (in press). Human-Agent
Knowledge Cartography for e-Science: NASA Field Trials at the Mars
Desert Research Station. Draft chapter to appear in: Knowledge
Cartography: Software Tools and Mapping Techniques. Eds. Okada, A.,
Buckingham Shum, S. and Sherborne, T. (Springer, 2008, in press)
Sierhuis, M., W. J. Clancey, R. van Hoof (2007). Brahms: A multiagent
modeling environment for simulating work processes and practices.
International Journal of Simulation and Process Modelling,
Inderscience Publishers, 3 (3), 134-152.
Sierhuis, M. (2007). It's not just goals all the way down - It's
activities all the way down. In G. M. P. O'Hare & A. Ricci & M. J.
O'Grady & O. Dikenelli (Eds.), Engineering Societies in the Agents
World VII, 7th International, Workshop, ESAW 2006, Dublin, Ireland,
September 6-8, 2006, Revised Selected and Invited Papers (Vol. LNCS
4457/2007, pp. 1-24). Dublin, Ireland: Springer.
The Knowledge Media Institute (http://kmi.open.ac.uk) is home to
internationally recognised researchers in semantic web, artificial
intelligence, cognitive science, human-computer interaction,
information retrieval and multimedia processing. KMi offers students
an intellectually challenging environment with exceptional research
and computer facilities. You will be joining a dynamic PhD programme
with about 15 other students in KMi, plus peers in the Computing
department and Institute of Educational Technology who together make
up the OU's Centre for Research in Computing (http://crc.open.ac.uk/).
KMi sees PhD students as critical to its mission, and awards
Studentships (£12,600/year tax free for 2007/08), with no additional
fees, compulsory examinations or teaching required. Participation is
required in CRC PhD events and thesis milestones, as specified in the
KMI Research Degrees policy (http://kmi.open.ac.uk/studentships/
policy.cfm). Additional training courses to develop your generic
research skills are run across the OU, attendance at which is agreed
with your supervisor.
The Open University (http://www.open.ac.uk) is UK's only distance
learning university with a dedicated mission for excellence in
teaching and research. PhD programmes are residential, however, and
the student would carry out their research at the KMi in the Open
University's central Milton Keynes campus.
Milton Keynes (http://www.mkweb.co.uk/), located in the triangle
Cambridge, Oxford and London, is an exciting and vibrant place to be.
It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country with fantastic
shopping facilities, Xscape Snow slope, new skydiving centre and much
more. Milton Keynes is also home to some major employers with Abbey
National, Argos and The Open University having headquarters in the
city. With more businesses continuing to locate here, unemployment
levels are among the lowest in the country. Milton Keynes has
excellent transport links with the M1 motorway and A5 running
alongside the city and a fast train link into London Euston (35
Feel free to approach us informally about your ideas.
Applications should comprise an Application Form, Research Proposal
and your CV, submitted by hardcopy to:
The Open University
and by email to reach Simon Buckingham Shum by:
1700 GMT Monday 7th January 2008.
Interviews will be held at the Open University, with video link to
NASA, in mid-Jan, with the goal of starting as soon as possible.
Information about the Doctoral Programme is on the KMi website
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