Lakatos-style collaborative mathematics through dialectical, structured and abstract argumentation

Alison Pease (Lead / Corresponding author), John Lawrence, Katarzyna Budzynska, Joseph Corneli, Chris Reed

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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The simulation of mathematical reasoning has been a driving force throughout the history of Artificial Intelligence research. However, despite significant successes in computer mathematics, computers are not widely used by mathematicians apart from their quotidian applications. An oft-cited reason for this is that current computational systems cannot do mathematics in the way that humans do. We draw on two areas in which Automated Theorem Proving (ATP) is currently unlike human mathematics: firstly in a focus on soundness, rather than understandability of proof, and secondly in social aspects. Employing techniques and tools from argumentation to build a framework for mixed-initiative collaboration, we develop three complementary arcs. In the first arc – our theoretical model – we interpret the informal logic of mathematical discovery proposed by Lakatos, a philosopher of mathematics, through the lens of dialogue game theory and in particular as a dialogue game ranging over structures of argumentation. In our second arc – our abstraction level – we develop structured arguments, from which we induce abstract argumentation systems and compute the argumentation semantics to provide labelings of the acceptability status of each argument. The output from this stage corresponds to a final, or currently accepted proof artefact, which can be viewed alongside its historical development. Finally, in the third arc – our computational model – we show how each of these formal steps is available in implementation. We demonstrate our approach with a formal, implemented example of real-world mathematical collaboration. Finally, we offer reflections on our mixed-initiative collaborative approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-219
Number of pages39
JournalArtificial Intelligence
Early online date1 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Automated theorem proving
  • automated reasoning
  • abstract argumentation
  • argumentation
  • collaborative intelligence
  • dialogue games
  • Lakatos
  • mathematical argument
  • structured argumentation
  • social creativity
  • philosophy of mathematical practice


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