Report: 19th International Conference on Case-Based Reasoning ICCBR 2011

Last year’s conference marked a turning point in my career, having been offered a visiting professor position at the University of Hildesheim which then led me to my new position at the University of West London. … David Aha on the doctoral consortium: reminds „students are the lifeblood of research“ David Aha on the doctoral consortium: reminds „students are the lifeblood of research“ A recurring theme at the conference was reasoning.

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I never would have thought that ICCBR could get better for me, but it did, thanks to great colleagues and friends.

Last year’s conference marked a turning point in my career, having been offered a visiting professor position at the University of Hildesheim just at that time which in turn led to my new position at the University of West London. This year’s ICCBR—organised by Ashwin Ram, Nirmalie Wiratunga, and Miltos Petridis at the University of Greenwich just across town—was my first conference as Professor in Computing, which felt quite nice 🙂 The conference started with a Doctoral Consortium where Edwina Rissland and I had been invited by David Aha to give talks about our respective careers.  The slides of the students as well as my slides will be made available on the DC homepage.

Recurring themes at the conference were reasoning and explanation. Ashwin Ram reported on an analysis of submission topics that showed still an emphasis on work on retrieval. He encouraged the community to work more on reasoning and learning. This was very much in line with my workshop on „Human-Centered and Cognitive approaches to CBR“ co-organised by Jörg Cassens, Anders Kofod-Petersen, Stewart Massie and Sutanu Chakraborti. I’d like to point out David Leake’s talk on „Assembling Latent Cases from the Web – A Challenge Problem for Cognitive CBR“. As David and I have done quite a few workshops on explanation and as the topic is central to David’s research it is no surprise that explanation played a central role. His vision of the Web as a huge case base received quite some attention.

In parallel, workshops on „Process-oriented Case-Based Reasoning (PO-CBR)“ and „Case-Based Reasoning for Computer Games“ were held.

The first invited talk was given by Kris Hammond: „Reasoning as search: supporting intelligence with distributed memory“. He reviewed his work on CBR and current projects, nicely underlining Ashwin Ram’s encouragement for more research on reasoning. Kris first led us from „reasoning is remembering“ to „reasoning is JUST remembering“. Cause „plan modifications are just damned hard“ one needs to „pull modifications out of the hands of the machine and put them in the hands of the user“. He further led us to „Reasoning is (just) remembering other people’s stuff“ (from CHEF to FAQfinder), „Reasoning is search“, „Reasoning is structure“, „Reasoning is knowing“, and finally back to „reasoning is remembering“. Go to his homepage to learn more about his research.

The second invited speaker was Steffen Staab. He talked about „Ontologies and similarity“. The focus was very much on ontologies and less on similarity. I very much liked his CBR view of Linked Data where „cases are metadata without frontiers“.

All in all, ICCBR was well organised and fun to attend. Next year ICCBR will be held in Lyon, France. I am looking forward to it!

Constructing Understandable Explanations for Semantic Search Results

I am also happy that another paper has been accepted for publication at EKAW 2010 – Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management by the Masses , Lisbon, Portugal: Constructing Understandable Explanations for Semantic Search Results by Björn Forcher, Thomas Roth-Berghofer, Michael Sintek, and Andreas Dengel Abstract. … The search engine of the MEDICO demonstrator RadSem is based on formal ontologies and designated for different kinds of users such as medical doctors or patients.

I am also happy that another paper has been accepted for publication at EKAW 2010 – Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management by the Masses, Lisbon, Portugal:

Constructing Understandable Explanations for Semantic Search Results by Björn Forcher, Thomas Roth-Berghofer, Michael Sintek, and Andreas Dengel

Abstract. The research project MEDICO aims to develop an intelligent, robust, and scalable semantic search engine for medical images. The search engine of the MEDICO demonstrator RadSem is based on formal ontologies and designated for different kinds of users such as medical doctors or patients. Since semantic search results are often hard to understand, an explanation facility was integrated into RadSem. For justifying search results, the facility applies the same ontologies as RadSem by showing a connection between query and result. The constructed explanations are depicted as semantic networks containing various medical concepts and labels. This paper addresses the tailoring of justifications to different kinds of users regarding such quality aspects as understandability or amount of information. The presented user experiment shows that under certain conditions the quality of justifications can be pre-estimated by considering the usage frequency of medical terms in natural language. [This research work was supported in part by the research program THESEUS in the MEDICO project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (01MQ07016). Responsibility for this publication lies with the authors.]

Raw Data Now!

The availability of machine-understandable data in the standardised format of the Semantic Web allows for new and advanced services. I just watched the video of Sir Tim Berners-Lee advertising Linked Data at TED 2009 and want to share it. [ted id=484]

Linked Data is a hot topic at our research department and also for me. The availability of machine-understandable data in the standardised format of the Semantic Web allows for new and advanced services. I just watched the video of Sir Tim Berners-Lee advertising Linked Data at TED 2009 and want to share it.

Touch & Write Table: Collaborative Knowledge Tool

Social knowledge management, in general, and collaborative knowledge representation, in particular, need the right tools for assisting in these tasks. The touch and write table, developed at the knowledge management research department provides just that.

Social knowledge management, in general, and collaborative knowledge representation, in particular, need the right tools for assisting in these tasks. The touch and write table, developed at the knowledge management research department provides just that. Just watch the short video on YouTube.

The nature of the Semantic Web

Just a pointer to an interesting summary by one of the pioneers of the Semantic Web, Jim Hendler: The Semantic Web is based on the relatively straightforward idea that to be able to integrate (link) data on the Web we must have some mechanism for knowing what relationships hold among the data, and how that relates to some “real world” context. … – Web Science – the World of the World Wide Web – James Hendler’s blog on Nature Network ]

Just a pointer to an interesting summary by one of the pioneers of the Semantic Web, Jim Hendler:

The Semantic Web is based on the relatively straightforward idea that to be able to integrate (link) data on the Web we must have some mechanism for knowing what relationships hold among the data, and how that relates to some “real world” context. Read on here

[From What is the Semantic Web really all about? – Web Science – the World of the World Wide Web – James Hendler’s blog on Nature Network]

Join the NEPOMUK Social Semantic Desktop Summer School 1.0

Application deadline: June 9th, 2008 The NEPOMUK Social Semantic Desktop develops a comprehensive solution for extending the personal desktop into a collaboration environment which supports both the personal information management and the sharing and exchange across social and organizational relations. The summer school will provide a very good opportunity for postgraduate students to refine their knowledge in a variety of topics such as Semantic Web, Personal Information Management, P2P, HCI or Social Networking, all in the context of the Social Semantic Destkop.

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Together with Yngve Sundblad, Siegfried Handschuh, Tudor Groza, and Charlie Abela I organise the First NEPOMUK Social Semantic Desktop Summer School at Hotel Victoria, Sliema, Malta 7-13 September 2008.

Application deadline: 9 June 2008

The NEPOMUK Social Semantic Desktop EU project develops a comprehensive solution for extending the personal desktop into a collaboration environment which supports both the personal information management and the sharing and exchange across social and organizational relations.

The summer school will provide a very good opportunity for postgraduate students to refine their knowledge in a variety of topics such as Semantic Web, Personal Information Management, P2P, HCI or Social Networking, all in the context of the Social Semantic Desktop. It will consist of a range of theoretical and practical sessions taught by leading researchers in the field and combined with a series of mini-projects to encourage collaboration between participants. In addition to the taught and practical sessions, the students will also benefit from and enjoy a stimulating environment through social interactions with the lecturers, tutors, and the other students.

Please visit the NEPOMUK Summer School website for details of the application process and further information on topics, lecturers, and tutors.

Data detection in Mac OS X Leopard (10.5)

What if Mail recognized the address of the restaurant and let you map directions on the web?… Mail even recognizes relative dates (“let’s meet next Tuesday”) and keywords (“dinner tomorrow”), so you can act on information rather than enter it.

I took the time yesterday to watch the guided tour video to Mac OS X Leopard. Besides integrated notes and to do management it now offers also “data detection”. Here is what Apple says about it:

Say you get an email invitation to dinner. What if Mail recognized the address of the restaurant and let you map directions on the web? Or let you click once to add the date to your iCal calendar? With Leopard, it does. Mail even recognizes relative dates (“let’s meet next Tuesday”) and keywords (“dinner tomorrow”), so you can act on information rather than enter it. (Apple – Mac OS X Leopard – Features – Mail)

I look forward to try that feature out. It should become a nice little time saver for daily knowledge work.

[composed and posted with ecto]

ECAP, Day #3

The long day with lots of talks and the conference dinner last evening wore me down.

[UPDATE] I have been asked by Susan Stuart, E-CAP director, to become member of the E-CAP Steering Committee. Of course, I accepted!


The long second day with lots of talks and the very nice conference dinner last evening wore me down. My concentration this morning was lousy …

As the keynote talk “Empirical databases, networks, and their logic” by Giovanni Boniolo from the Department of Philosophy, Padova / European Scholl of Molecular Medicine, Milano / Firc Institute of Molecular Oncology, Milano, was outside my scope of research work I could not really appreciate it. But according to comments and questions it was quite good 🙂

There is only one other talk I’d like to mention, a talk that got me worked up a bit: “The concept of the Semantic Web and its flaws” by Jean Robillard from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). It was again one of those talks promising the failure of the Semantic Web. I hope I got the point across that the Semantic Web does not exist yet and not (only) in the way he described, and that it is a bit premature to state or predict its failure.

Thinking about his claims afterwards I think the main problem with his talk is the premise that there exists a “concept of the Semantic Web”. As I understand Tim Berners-Lee and Co’s Scientific American article and his keynote talk last year at AAAI-06 in Boston, the Semantic Web is a vision for the future, a vision many people are working towards. There are many interpretations. And the interpretation that Jean Robillard chose is indeed questionable to become reality.

More presentations are to come. Some more business with the E-CAP organisers needs to be done until I can drive home in the evening.

P.S.: I am an IACAP member as of today.

[composed and posted with ecto]

ECAP, Day #2

There is no answer to this hypothesis yet, but by capturing the essence of complex systems in computer models and observing robust regularities we may come up with a model of evolutionary creativity. On the panel on “The future of artificial intelligence”, Paul van der Vet, Anton Nijholt, Susan Stuart, Mark Bedau, and I presented our previous and current work, and how we look at the future.

And still more from the European Computing and Philosophy Conference ECAP 2007

The second day of ECAP is quite packed. Since nine o’clock in the morning until after seven in the evening three tracks are firing one presentation after the other on me. Some discussions I can follow …

The morning started with the keynote talk “The unsolved mystery of why evolution is so creative” by Mark A. Bedau from Reed College, Portland / European Center for Living Technology, Venice / ProtoLife SRL, Venice. Mark Bedau presented the arrow of complexity hypothesis: “Evolution inherently creates increasingly complex adaptive organisations”. There is no answer to this hypothesis yet, but by capturing the essence of complex systems in computer models and observing robust regularities we may come up with a model of evolutionary creativity. This talks very much showed how important models and the task of modelling have become.

On the panel on “The future of artificial intelligence”, chaired by Jordi Vallverdú, Paul van der Vet, Anton Nijholt, Susan Stuart, Mark Bedau, and I presented previous and current work, and how we look at the future of AI. My main point: Future AI is coupled to the (Social & Semantic) Web! (see slides)

Now, more presentations to go, and a conference dinner to enjoy!

[composed and posted with ecto]

Mnemosyne – Connecting and Sharing Memories and Cultural Experiences

Mnemosyne explores these success stories in the information field of cultural heritage, on the web and outside the web towards a ubiquitous and serendipitous access of cultural information.Mnemosyne will comprise a set of technical and methodological solutions for:the support for sharing of cultural experiences by means of semanti-cally structured and unstructured annotation allowing for many-to-many communications and semantic search in the field of cultural heritage.the development of enhanced navigation systems based on semantics and user contributed knowledge.the management of personal knowledge through user-centric inter-operable applications.Mnemosyne realises an open-source service that provides a platform for the development of new type of applications involving users. The service distributed through cultural organisations will provide access to abundant semantic information and distribute the load of user contribution, thus en-hancing the navigation and application possibilities of cultural organisations web applications at low-cost and effectively.I was, of course, not alone in this endeavour.

Mnemosyne logo

Yesterday was an important day for many European researchers as yesterday ended Call 1 on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7). I co-ordinated and submitted the project proposal “Mnemosyne”, initiated by Cédric Mesnage and myself. The proposed project addresses Challenge 4: Digital Libraries and Content. Here is the abstract of the proposal:

Mnemosyne aims at enhancing the way citizens access, contribute to and navigate cultural heritage information, create and communicate experiences, share memories, thus leveraging the structure of the whole cultural heritage digital sphere. Mnemosyne brings together museum experts and visitors, social scientists, designers, computer scientists, web engineers and Semantic Web researchers to explore the possibilities of the digital sphere to enhance the cultural experiences of European citizens. The Web 2.0 trend reveals the success of systems involving the user, enhancing the content and the navigation by means of their contribution. The Semantic Web eases interoperability between applications by creating a web of data. Mnemosyne explores these success stories in the information field of cultural heritage, on the web and outside the web towards a ubiquitous and serendipitous access of cultural information.

Mnemosyne will comprise a set of technical and methodological solutions for:

  • the support for sharing of cultural experiences by means of semantically structured and unstructured annotation allowing for many-to-many communications and semantic search in the field of cultural heritage.
  • the development of enhanced navigation systems based on semantics and user contributed knowledge.
  • the management of personal knowledge through user-centric inter-operable applications.

Mnemosyne realises an open-source service that provides a platform for the development of new type of applications involving users. The service distributed through cultural organisations will provide access to abundant semantic information and distribute the load of user contribution, thus enhancing the navigation and application possibilities of cultural organisations web applications at low-cost and effectively.

I was, of course, not alone in this endeavour. I was supported in the best way by the following consortium:

Now we have to wait for the evaluation report scheduled for mid-July.

Cross your fingers!

(Logo design by Bosse Westerlund. All rights reserved.)

[composed and posted with ecto]

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