Sunday, August 26, 2018

Resolving Goal Conflicts Via Argumentation-Based Analysis of Competing Hypotheses

Resolving Goal Conflicts Via Argumentation-Based Analysis of Competing Hypotheses
Pradeep K. Murukannaiah, Anup K. Kalia, Pankaj R. Telang, and Munindar P. Singh, Department of Computer Science, North Carolina State University, Cisco Systems Inc.

Pradeep Murukannaiah (et. al) asks the fundamental question of: what makes stakeholders’ goals conflict? The purpose of the writings and the study done by the authors is to understand how stakeholders process goals to identify the sources of their conflicts and to resolve goal conflicts by studying stakeholders’ beliefs about various goals. They do this with the key understanding that goals conflict when stakeholders have contradictory beliefs about supporting or opposing those goals. Murukannaiah (et. al) resolve these goals by using Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) technique and infusing an argument based ACH technique into their problem-solving process (Arg-ACH).  
The first section gives a background of what the study is analyzing and what some of the details behind the study are. Section two looks at ACH and applies it for resolving goal conflicts for stakeholders in a sample scenario involving protections of a city against terrorist attacks. The scenario includes the city’s train systems and the city’s hotels and their security. Section three describes Arg-ACH and shows how it assists in systematically eliciting stakeholders’ beliefs and building arguments from beliefs to support or opposition of goals. Sections four and five detail the design of the authors empirical study and the findings that they received from it. Section 6 showed related work and section 7 provided the conclusion that included the finding that Arg-ACH yields high quality analysis reports.
Overall, I believe the authors of this article and study did a good job of explaining the ins and outs of ACH. After reading it for a second time, the Arg-ACH technique began to make sense. Their examples and scenarios for tying the two concepts together were very helpful and helped to put it in a real-world perspective. The related works section and parts of the information on the study itself were at times hard to keep up with and keep a clear line of understanding while reading. As the authors talked about in the conclusion, with the ever-improving realm of technology, it is likely that information retrieval abilities will continue to grow and ultimately make Arg-ACH a more popular technique for solving goal conflicts. 

Murukannaiah, P. K., Kalia, A. K., Telangy, P. R., & Singh, M. P. (2015). Resolving goal conflicts via argumentation-based analysis of competing hypotheses. 2015 IEEE 23rd International Requirements Engineering Conference (RE). doi:10.1109/re.2015.7320418. Retrieved from


  1. I'm interested in how the Arg-ACH fits into the matrix. Does anything differ from how normal ACH fills the matrix? Tim van Gelder writes about how argument mapping has strengths that ACH lacks, specifically representing a hypothesis with a layered structure and filling gaps with auxiliary information. Did Murukannaiah (et. al) discuss any changes in structure or how the analyst enters evidence?

    1. Jillian,
      According to the authors, you would still stick to the ACH "rubric" when applying Arg-ACH. They offer two steps you can take to apply this method. One is constructing arguments and the other is assigning belief scores to the information on your ACH. Constructing arguments would be as simple as questioning or arguing the credibility of a certain source. In terms of assigning a belief score, the authors use what they call a BDU score (belief, disbelief, and uncertainty) to help characterize a belief in a particular argument

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  3. Jillian brought up an interesting question about how Arg- ACH fits in the matrix. On sort of the same note as that, does the BDU score (belief, disbelief, and uncertainty) have an effect on the weight of the ACH score?