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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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