Virtual Scientific-Community-Based Foundations for Popperian e-Science

Speaker: Karl Lieberherr, College of Computer and Information Science, PRL, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts.


e-Science has an ongoing need to develop new, innovative algorithms to extract knowledge from data. Over the last five years we have been experimenting with the Scientific Community Game (SCG) that tries to foster innovation in technological domains through good societal engineering but also learning so that scholars benefit from the interaction with other scholars. SCG is a constraint-based programming platform parameterized by playgrounds that define the detailed constraints for a domain. We view as an interesting instantiation of SCG ideas in the data mining area.

In the SCG we build knowledge bases of claims that are defended by members of the community against challengers. We use a critical rationalism (= Popperian) approach where each claim is disputable through a precisely defined refutation protocol. The refutation protocol, in its simplest form, is: If you produce an x in X and I produce a y in Y, property p(x,y) holds. The successful defenders of claims have good technological know-how (for the given playground and relative to the quality of the other scholars). It is this technological know-how which is of interest to e-Science and it is transfered as software or heuristic descriptions or by hiring the successful scholars.

I will introduce the rules of SCG, its playgrounds that are inhabited by scholars (humans or avatars). Interesting specializations of SCG are the Quantifier Game from logic but also the Renaissance Game (Tartaglia et al.) from the 16th century. I will report on our successes and failures to create games that produce innovations and learning (I have written a playground designer's guide that helps designers to be good societal engineers). Our most successful instantiation of the Scientific Community Game was through the learning tool in an Algorithms class with 35 undergraduates. I have also used SCG successfully to gamify software development for optimization tasks.

Supported by Novartis. Joint work with Ahmed Abdelmeged. SCG-Publications.

Short Speaker Bio

Karl Lieberherr started his career at the Kantonsschule St. Gallen, got his PhD at ETH Zurich, taught at Princeton, was a visiting scientist at MIT and is a professor at the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. One of his current research interests are platforms for crowd sourcing where quality control is done by refutation.