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Graph Layout Researcher

Austhink Software is planning to sponsor a Masters student to work on problems of graph layout under the supervision of Prof. Kim Marriott of Monash University.

Argument mapping is creating graphical presentations of the structure of complex reasoning and argumentation.  There are now a number of software packages which support argument mapping.  All such packages however try to adapt existing generic algorithms for laying out tree structures, resulting in poor-quality layout and serious software usability problems. For the best current example of argument mapping software, see Reason!Able.

Austhink Software was set up in order to develop and sell "new generation" argument mapping software - that is, the first software to be based on graph layout algorithms designed specifically for the unique domain of argument mapping. 

The Masters student will work on developing these new algorithms, dealing with the following challenges:

  • Reasoning and argument structures superficially seem like simple tree structures.  At a deeper level of analysis however they are higraphs.
  • The nodes in argument maps contain text, often substantial amounts.  The graph layout algorithms must be able to size nodes appropriately to the amount of text, and position nodes and links appropriately given nodes of significant size.
  • In addition to standard formal constraints, graph layout for argument mapping must observe subtle constraints arising from the fact that the resulting diagrams must maximize comprehension by human users. 
  • An argument mapping software package is highly interactive. The algorithms must be able to respond to many different manipulations which users apply to argument structure diagrams.

The algorithms developed will be immediately implemented in a commercial software product.  Thus, this is a rare opportunity to be simultaneously gaining a Masters degree while working as part of a team developing a product for the commercial market.  The applicant will be based in Kim Marriott's lab at Monash, but will be also expected to spend up to half their time working with the software development team in Carlton.  Austhink Software envisages offering permanent employment to the applicant once they have completed their degree.