Training and Using DISCIPLE Agents: A Case Study in the Military Center of Gravity Analysis Domain. (Articles)
Tecuci, Gheorghe, Boicu, Mihai, Marcu, Dorin, Stanescu, Bogdan, Boicu, Cristina, Comello, Jerome, AI Magazine
This article presents the results of a multi-objective collaboration between the Learning Agents Laboratory of George Mason University, on the one side, and the Center for Strategic Leadership and the Department of Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations of the U.S. Army War College, on the other side. A distinguishing feature of this collaboration is the synergistic integration of AI research with military strategy research and the practical use of agents in education, as detailed in the following.
The AI research objective is the development of the DISCIPLE approach for building instructable knowledge-based systems or agents (Tecuci 1998, 1988). The DISCIPLE approach advocates the creation of a powerful learning agent shell that can be taught by a person to solve problems in a way similar to how that person would teach a student or an assistant.
We think that the DISCIPLE approach contributes directly to a new age in the software systems development process, as illustrated in figure 1. In the mainframe computers age, the software systems were both built and used by computer science experts. In the current age of personal computers, these systems are still being built by computer science experts, but many of them (such as text processors, electronic-mail programs, or internet browsers) are now used by persons that have no formal computer education. Continuing this trend, we think that the next age will be that of the personal agents, where typical computer users will be able to both develop and use special types of software agents (Tecuci, Boicu, and Marcu 2000). The DISCIPLE approach attempts to change the way intelligent agents are built, from "being programmed" by a knowledge engineer to "being taught" by a user who does not have prior knowledge engineering or computer science experience. This approach would allow a typical computer user, who is not a trained knowledge engineer, to build by himself/herself an intelligent assistant as easily as he/she now uses a word processor to write a paper.
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Over the years, we have developed a series of increasingly advanced learning agent shells forming the DISCIPLE family. The most recent family member, DISCIPLE-RKF, represents a significant advancement over its most recent predecessors: DISCIPLE-WA (Tecuci et al. 1999) and DISCIPLE-COA (Tecuci et al. 2001). All three systems were developed as part of the High Performance Knowledge Bases Program and the Rapid Knowledge Formation Program, supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). (1) Both programs emphasized the use of innovative challenge problems to focus and evaluate the research and development efforts. The challenge problem for the DISCIPLE-RKF system is the strategic center of gravity analysis, which brings us to the second objective of this effort, the military strategy research objective of clarifying and formalizing the center of gravity analysis process by using the general task-reduction paradigm of problem solving. The concept of the center of gravity of an entity (state, alliance, coalition, or group) was introduced in the nineteenth century by Karl von Clausewitz (1976) as the foundation of capability, "the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends, ... the point against which all the energies should be directed" (595-596).
Correctly identifying the centers of gravity of the opposing forces is of highest importance in any conflict. Therefore, in the education of strategic leaders at all the United States senior military service colleges, there is a great emphasis on the center of gravity analysis (Strange 1996). Hence, we have the third objective of this research, the educational objective of enhancing the educational process of senior military officers through the use of intelligent agent technology. Using the DISCIPLE approach, we have developed intelligent agents for strategic center of gravity analysis that are used in several courses at the U.S. Army War College. In the Case Studies in Center of Gravity Analysis course, the students (who are high-ranking military officers, from lieutenant colonels to generals) use a DISCIPLE agent that was taught some of the instructor's expertise in center of gravity analysis. The students use DISCIPLE as an intelligent assistant that supports them both in learning about the center of gravity analysis concept and in developing a center of gravity analysis report for a war scenario. In the follow-on Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence course, the students use personal DISCIPLE agents as subject-matter experts, teaching them their own problem-solving expertise in center of gravity analysis.
The DISCIPLE approach is particularly relevant to education, figure 2 illustrating our long-term research vision in this area. As shown on the left-hand side of figure 2, a teacher teaches a DISCIPLE agent through examples and explanations, in a way that is similar to how the teacher would teach a student. The DISCIPLE agent can then be used as a personal tutor, teaching the students in a way similar to how it was taught by the teacher (Hamburger and Tecuci 1998; Tecuci and Keeling 1999).
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Each of the three objectives discussed earlier is recognized as important and difficult in its own right. Our experience with addressing them together in a synergistic manner has resulted in faster progress for each of them. Moreover, it offers a new perspective on how to combine research in AI with research in a specialized domain and with the development and deployment of prototype systems in education and practice.
The rest of this article presents the current status of this research and development effort. The next section presents in more detail the center of gravity challenge problem. This discussion is followed by an end user perspective on a developed DISCIPLE agent for center of gravity analysis, called DISCIPLE-RKF/COG, which is used in the Case Studies in Center of Gravity Analysis course at the U.S. Army War College. The following section presents an overview of the DISCIPLE-RKF shell and its use to build the DISCIPLE-RKF/COG agent, emphasizing its new capabilities with respect to the previous DISCIPLE shells. This section also discusses the deployment and evaluation of DISCIPLE in the Military Applications of Artificial Intelligence course. The article concludes with a summary of the synergistic aspects of this collaborative work and future research directions.
The Center of Gravity Problem
Military literature distinguishes between three levels of conflicts: (1) a strategic level focusing on winning wars, (2) an operational level focusing on winning campaigns, and (3) a tactical level focusing on winning battles. One of the most difficult problems that senior military leaders face at the strategic level is the determination and analysis of the centers of gravity for friendly and opposing forces. Originally introduced by Clausewitz in his classical work On War (1976), the center of gravity is now understood as representing "those characteristics, capabilities, or localities from which a military force derives its freedom of action, physical strength, or will to fight" (Joint Chiefs of Staff 2001). The force's goal should be to eliminate or influence the enemy's strategic center of gravity yet adequately protect its own.
Center of gravity determination requires a wide range of background knowledge, not only from the military domain but also from the political, psychosocial, economic, geographic, demographic, historic, international, and other domains. In addition, the situation, the adversaries involved, their goals, and their capabilities can vary in important ways from one scenario to another. Therefore, when performing center of gravity analysis, experts rely on their own professional experience and intuitions, without following a rigorous approach. Recognizing these difficulties, the Center for Strategic Leadership of the U.S. Army War College started, in 1993, an effort to elicit and formalize the knowledge of a number of experts in center of gravity analysis. This research resulted in a monograph on center of gravity analysis, (2) which provided a basis for the application of DISCIPLE to this high-value application domain and for …
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Publication information: Article title: Training and Using DISCIPLE Agents: A Case Study in the Military Center of Gravity Analysis Domain. (Articles). Contributors: Tecuci, Gheorghe - Author, Boicu, Mihai - Author, Marcu, Dorin - Author, Stanescu, Bogdan - Author, Boicu, Cristina - Author, Comello, Jerome - Author. Magazine title: AI Magazine. Volume: 23. Issue: 4 Publication date: Winter 2002. Page number: 51+. © 2009 American Association for Artificial Intelligence. COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group.
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