Argumentation has long been a topic of study in Philosophy, and over the last 20 years has become a well established topic in Computer Science, as reflected by this conference on Computational Models of Argument (COMMA). While work on argumentation is broad, the COMMA community is distinguished by its focus on the computational and mathematical aspects of the subject. This focus aims to ensure that its methods are sound – that they, for example, identify arguments that are correct in some sense – but it is also in order to provide an unambiguous specification for implementation, to produce computer programs that reason in that correct way. Much of the work in the COMMA community is prescriptive, concerned with the right way to carry out argument. Another important strand is concerned with building systems that are capable of natural argument, i.e., that will be recognised and found persuasive by humans. Yet another strand that is beginning to emerge is concerned with recognising argument, allowing human arguments to be extracted from text or speech.
The first COMMA conference was held in September 2006 at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, and the conference has been held every two years since. The second edition of the conference was held in May 2008 at the Institut de Recherche en Informatique de Toulouse in France. The third edition was held at Desenzano del Garda in Italy in September 2010, and was organised by the University of Brescia. The fourth edition of the conference was held in September 2012 at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria, and this fifth edition is being held in September 2014 in the beautiful surroundings of Pitlochry, Scotland.
Over the eight years that the conference has been running, it has developed a strong following. The number of submissions has grown to a healthy number (around 50 in 2006, 60 in 2008, 67 in 2010, 76 in 2012 and 67 again this year, 10 of which were submitted to the innovative applications track), and we have researchers who first came to COMMA to present their PhD work who are now submitting papers with their own PhD students. It is particularly gratifying to see the way in which demonstrations – which point the way to practical applications of the techniques we develop – have become an integral part of the conference. This year we have 21 demonstrations, with 19 of these being represented in this proceedings by an extended abstract (the other 2 are associated with another paper in the proceedings).
The selection of papers and demonstrations was made on the basis of the reviews made by members of the Programme Committee and the discussions that followed from those reviews. The quality of every scientific event depends on such work, and we are grateful to the members of the Programme Committee for all the effort that they put into the review process. Thanks to their hard work, we are confident that the papers this year fully deserve to be here. In total we have 24 long papers and 18 short papers (two long and five short in the innovative applications track) each of which will be presented in a plenary talk. These talks will make up the bulk of the technical sessions, complemented by invited talks by Diane Litman, Guillermo Simari and Rineke Verbrugge.
We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance.
Aberdeen/Dundee/Liverpool, July 2014
Simon Parsons (Program Chair)
Nir Oren (Conference Chair)
Chris Reed (Conference Chair)
Federico Cerutti (Demonstrations Chair)