Structured Evidential Argumentation System
"By providing transparent, credible, early alerts to decision makers, SEAS allows effective response to changing situations."
"SEAS is especially useful for facilitating decisions that must rely on results from complex collaborative-environmental analysis efforts."
- Bill Ralston and Ian Wilson, "The Scenario Planning Handbook: Developing Strategies in Uncertain Times," Thomson/South-Western, 2006
There are two different versions of SEAS available for distribution. The GOTS version of SEAS, known simply as SEAS, is available for US government use free of any license fees. High SEAS, the COTS version, is available under license and has associated fees. High SEAS differs from SEAS in the following ways:
The current verions of SEAS have development histories dating back to 1998. The first release of SEAS, SEAS 1.0, occurred durring the spring of 1998. Since that time, there have been numerous additional releases, each improving upon the previous. Development continues and new releases are anticipated. Release notes, beginning with SEAS 6.0 in late 2002, up through the present release follow:
The Table Viewer has been redesigned to depcit more details regarding arguments. Now fusion methods, weights, evidence, exhibits, discovery tools, memos, signal flags and the specific lights that convery answers to questions and the relevance of evidence can all be optionally depicted within the Table Viewer. This makes the tables far more comprehensive and easier to answer some questions of interest pertaining to arguments e.g.,are there questions unsupported by evidence/exhibits/discovery tools.
The new Collection Comparison Viewer allows the contents of multiple arguments to be compared side-by-side. A table depicts each argument in a column with each row corresponding to a question from a common template. This view makes it easy to see where answers to common questions differ and where supporting evidence differs. This can be used to understand the evolution of versioned/sequential arguments over time or how alternative arguments compare and contrast. It also can be used to support Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) [Heuer-99].
A Film Viewer has been added as a new way to explore the contents of collections. It allows you to rapidly cycle through graphical depictions of arguments/templates in the collection, making it easy to spot small changes and trends.
Now you can increment a versioning or sequential collection, through one-click versioning, without leaving the collection.
If you open an argument or template for editing, for which there is a more recent version, you are warned. This helps to ensure that modifications are confined to the appropriate versions.
Viewer parameter dialogs have been redesigned to be more consistent and easier to use. Automatic color selection for starbursts, based upon the fusion methods in use, is now an option.
Now you can optionally disable the exporting of group members from AML files, making them smaller, while also protecting the privacy of group members.
There is a new version of the SEAS Manager that opens objects as tabs within the same browser window, rather than opening them in new browser windows. This makes it easier to keep track of open objects, and reduces clutter on the desktop. The original SEAS Manager is still available. Choose to use the Tabbed Interface, or not, within the SEAS User Information Viewer/Editor.
Now you can view the history of changes made to question answers and supporting evidence within arguments. Each entry in the history shows who made the change, when they did it, and what their answer/rationale/relevance was. This is available in both the Hierarchical and Summary Viewer/Editors.
Prior to version 7.0, weights on evidence were only available within the Hierarchical Viewer/Editor and only where a weighted automated fusion method was in use. Now they are always available within the Summary and Hierarchical Viewer/Editor, whether or not a weighted fusion method is in use. This provides a convenient means for recording source credibility estimates across all evidence.
Now you can upload multiple files, from your computer, as exhibits, through a single dialog. A button in the dialog allows you to add additional files with corresponding citations, speeding exhibit creation.
To better support argument template development, you can now copy or move entire template branches. This works within a common template or across different template. All template information is copied/moved including questions, amplifications, multiple choice answers, and discovery tools. Arguments based upon these templates are automatically updated to reflect the changes made including the copying/moving of answers, rationale, evidence, exhibits, and discovery tools.
Now you can see and open the SEAS objects that are directly supported by templates, arguments, and collections. This includes collections for which the given object is an item, multi-dimensional objects for which the given uni-dimensional object is a component, and arguments based upon the given template. This is available through the information button on the auxiliary toolbar.
One key use of alternaives collections is to organize arguments that represent differing opinions on a common topic. If all such arguments are based upon a common template, then a consensus argument, utilizing the same template, can be automatically produced through a "join". The resulting argument arrays the answers given by each of the arguments as elements of evidence in support of the joint answer. If an automated fusion method is chosen to perform the join, then the consensus answers are automatically entered in the resulting argument.
To ease the development of independent assessments on common topics, alternatives collections now have a "Fill" button. After creating an alternatives collection and establishing it audience, pushing the "Fill" button and selecting a template or argument will cause an independent argument to be created for each member of the audience and placed in the alternatives collection. After these arguments are completed by the audience members, they can be joined into a common argument that summaries their collective assessments.
A new miscellaneous collection called the "SEAS Library" is home to the "Q&A Library" and "Template Library". The Q&A Library houses the exemplar template questions and multiple-choice answers, introduced in SEAS 6.4. The Template Library includes templates for a range of business applications and one for assessing the quality of SEAS template. While these might be directly applicable to problems of interest, they are primarily provided to illustrate how SEAS can be applied to a wide range of problems and to provide examples of good template design.
Now you can specify your preferred way of viewing SEAS objects. For arguments and templates, you can specify the Hierarchical, Table, or Summary viewer as your default, and for collections you can specify the Tabular or Graphical view as your default. When an object is opened, these preferences are used to determine how it will be viewed. Also, there are preset configurations to choose from when changing the parameters associated with SEAS viewers, keyed off of the level of detail you wish to see i.e., minimal, moderate, or full.
The SEAS Find capability has been enhanced to search for objects based upon words contained in the their names. It can look for specific words or words that begin with a given sequence of letters. This can be used in combination with all of the other Find criteria.
SEAS now allows one to respond to a memo. In so doing, a new memo is created on the same topic. When a memo is opened for reading, all memos on the same topic (to which the reader has access) are displayed, allowing the reader to review the dialog pertaining to that topic.
To help speed the creation of templates and improve their quality, a library of exemplar template questions and associated multiple-choice answers is provided. When entering the multiple-choice answers associated with a given question in a template, there is the option to directly choose a multiple-choice answer set from the library, to reverse the association of choices with the colored light scale, and to propagate those choices to all other questions in the template.
Propagate Publication and Situation Information from a Collection to its Items
When entering or editing the publication information or the situation information associated with a collection, there is now the option to propagate that information to the items in that collection. This greatly speeds making coordinated changes to this information across items in a collection.
HTML Tags can be Incorporated into the Text You Enter
Now as you enter text to be incorporated into SEAS arguments/templates, you can choose to include HTML tags in that text (e.g., to make text bold, italic, underlined, colored,, etc.) and they will influence the way that that text appears.
Discovery Tools for Collections
Discovery tools can now be attached to collections in the same way that they are attached to templates or arguments (in addition to being included as items in collections). If those attached are auto-populating discovery tools, when triggered, the resulting new exhibits are automatically added as items in the collections. All such auto-populating discovery tools attached to a collection can be simultaneously triggered by pushing the discovery button associated with that collection.
Directly Open Exhibit/Evidence or the Documents on which they are Based
Now when exhibits or evidence are displayed in collections or in the SEAS manager, clicking on the associated icon will open the dialog pertaining to the exhibit/evidence, while clicking on the citation will open the document on which that exhibit/evidence is based. This allows direct access to the underlying documents.
A new type of collection has been added, one that captures the idea that its items are in competition with one another to be designated the best. This type of collection can be used to organize arguments that represent differing opinions on a common topic. One of those can also be designated as the "best".
New Options in the Summary Viewer
The summary viewer parameters now include an option to include a graphic depicting the summarized arugment/template at the top of the summary. In addition there is an option to directly answer questions within the summary viewer, rather than having to go to the hierarchical viewer/editor to do so.
Now you can designate the hierarchal viewer/editor, the summary viewer/editor, or the table viewer as your preferred viewer. Whenever an argument or template is opened from a collection or from the SEAS manager, it is opened in the preferred viewer.
SEAS export/import capabilities have been extended to handle all of the new features of SEAS 6.4. In addition, files used as the basis for exhibits/evidence are included in the exports/imports allowing arguments and their supporting exhibit/evidence files to be moved from one SEAS server to another.
The 6.2 release of SEAS is a minor release, but contains important changes since 6.0. Please read all 6.x Release Notes, included here. If you are upgrading from 5.1, we recommend loading 6.2 directly.
The 6.1 release of SEAS is a minor release, but has important changes since 6.0. Please read both 6.1 and 6.0 release notes, included here. If you are upgrading from 5.1, we recommend loading 6.1 directly.
Although the SEAS team generally recommends the use of regularly structured template skeletons, in some cases irregular skeletons are appropriate. With SEAS 6.0, you can edit templates and arguments to create irregular (asymmetrical) skeletons (e.g., one branch of a template skeleton might have three supporting questions, while the others have two).To add or delete branches:
With SEAS 6.0, you can add a security marking to appear at the top of every template or argument page. The same security marking is used for all pages a template, argument, or collection.
SEAS 6.0 includes a graphical user interface to support the SEAS system administrator. This interface makes it easy for the system administrator to add new users, create new groups, assign users to groups, reset user passwords, and manage accounts.
With SEAS 6.0, you can export and import arguments and templates to move SEAS objects among different SEAS servers. SEAS 6.0 makes use of a new version of AML, the Argument Markup Language, that is capable of representing more of the objects used by SEAS in greater detail within XML files.
SEAS 6.0 is compatible with browsers: Internet Explorer 4.x - 6.x, Netscape 4.7 - 6.0, and Mozilla 1.0 - 1.2
[Heuer-99] Heuer, Richard J. Jr.. Psychology of Intelligence Analysis. Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1999.
|SEAS, High SEAS, Structured Evidential Argumentation System, and SRI Early Alert System, are trademarks of SRI International.
Copyright © 2000-2008 SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA. All rights reserved.
Patent Pending and Unpublished Copyright © 1998-2008, SRI International.