Abstract Black Zschaler june13 2017

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Can we use Agent Dialogue as a Tool for Capturing Software Design Discussions?

Software design is an important creative step in the engineering of software systems, yet we know surprisingly little about how humans actually do it. While it has been argued before that there is a need for formal frameworks to help capture design dialogues in a format amenable to analysis, there is almost no work that actually attempts to do so. In this talk, we will report on our initial attempts in this direction, exploring the application of concepts from agent dialogues to the description of actual design dialogues between human software designers. We have found that this can be done in principle and will present a set of dialogue moves that we have found useful in the coding of an example dialogue. Through this formulation of the dialogue, we were able to identify some interesting initial patterns of moves and dialogue structures. More importantly, we believe that such a representation of design dialogues can provide a useful basis for a better understanding of how designers interact. However, lots of questions remain, not least how to square the rigidity inherent in formal frameworks with the almost infinite flexibility of human dialogue. We hope that our talk will trigger interesting discussions with colleagues in your group to help us move this research forward.