EWG on Preference Handling

Advances in Preference Handling

Multidisciplinary Working Group affiliated to EURO

Australian Goldcoast

The submission deadline for the ECAI workshops on Advances in Preference Handling M-PREF 12 and on Preference Learning PL-12 is approaching. As indicated in the call for papers, submissions are due by June 1st, 2012.

May 12, 2012

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Ten years later and the results are impressive. The workshops on advances in preference handling became a hub of knowledge. Researchers from artificial intelligence, data-base systems, operations research exchanged methods for preference modeling, preference representation, preference aggregation, preference elicitation and used them for problems as diverse as recommendation, configuration, action planning, combinatorial auctions, constraint satisfaction, multi-criteria optimization, data-base querying. From the beginning, the workshops have attracted young PhD students who presented ongoing research related to preference handling. The workshops have thus gained a diverse and varying audience.

Properly speaking, the multidisciplinary events on preference handling have started eight years ago with a Dagstuhl seminar. However, there was a precursor event at AAAI 2002, which brought researchers from constraint satisfaction, non-monotonic reasoning, and decision-theoretic artificial intelligence together and thus had a catalyzing effect for what followed. The Dagstuhl seminar in 2004 then provided a forum for researchers from different disciplines such as data-base research, artificial intelligence, mathematics, decision sciences, and philosophy to exchange ideas and to identify directions of collaboration. Since then, this multidisciplinary group of researchers had a meeting each year at an international scientific conference. The group members either organized a dedicated workshop on advances in preference handling or participated in the organization of the international conference on algorithmic decision theory, which was held in 2009 and 2011.

These events resulted into an impressive number of scientific papers on preference handling, with a cross-fertilization of approaches. It is certainly worth to preserve essential information about those events, thus giving insights to PhD students about the origins of ideas. Similarly, authors of bibliographical chapters might appreciate to find original information about previous events in the form as it was given when the events were held. The working group on advances on preference handling has therefore built an archive of past events. It provides links to the web pages of these events as well as information about follow-up publications such as conference reports and special issues. If necessary, web sites have been reconstructed with the original contents, but in a fresh and unified look.

This archive not only gives an exact picture of what has been achieved in the past, but also shows which questions have not yet found much attention. As many of the basic preference handling methods have been elaborated, the time is ready to explore the preference structures of more complex tasks. For example, writing a computer program or writing a text require that thousands of small decisions have to be made in a coherent way and preferences are capable to guarantee this coherence. However, are existing preference structures sufficient to capture preferences on text structure, text style, word choice? Hopefully, future events on preference handling will give answers to those questions.