Brief History

Section 4 - The Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE)

PANGARO Limited was formed in England at the same time as PANGARO Incorporated in the US, and became a recognized Defence Contractor for the British Ministry of Defence in 1982. Continuing contracts through 1986 with the (former) Behavioural Sciences Division of the Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE) Teddington included the development of knowledge based systems, man machine interfaces, simulations and graphics. The products were combined in a framework for experimentation in and evaluation of advanced techniques both for training and support in the execution of a complex task. Contracts continued through 1989 after the Division's relocation to Portsdown and shift of emphasis from long-term research to short term AI applications.

The systems developed for ARE Teddington fall into these main categories, and each is further described below:

Intelligent Support Systems (ISS)

Intelligent Support Systems (ISS) were the bases of the research program for ARE. Developed in collaboration with the ISS Section of ARE Teddington, the program focused on command and control decision making for naval tasks.

Central to the entire approach is "user modeling", whereby the software constructs a representation, or model, of the user in the course of interaction.

This can be used in two ways:
  1. To represent the user's strategies in a task, demonstrating its implications in actual situations; discrepancies between the system's model and the user's intentions are exposed and the user can refine the model
  2. To represent the user's intellectual strategies, modifying the system's responses in order to communicate in the user's terms and to ensure agreement between the user and the system.
Analysis of the requirements of ISS led to the identification of formal techniques to fulfill each function. The functions were divided into sub-systems that allow for a number of possible techniques to be tested. PANGARO Limited developed a number of these sub-systems, and was responsible for the eventual integration of subsystems developed by other contractors of ARE into the ISS.

The Naval Simulation Laboratory

The Naval Simulation Laboratory is software developed for performing experiments within Intelligent Support Systems.

A requirement of ISS experimentation is the creation of a submarine gaming simulation. It represents the command and control task in its rules of play, and uses graphic displays to illustrate the results of action. The software is suitable for psychological experimentation, and contains a high degree of subtlety representative of the real situation. Computer players of differing strategies are available as opponents, as are grades of interaction with varying degrees of support for the user.

A configuration of choices for controlled experiments is easily made, and simulation parameters, player configurations and performance measures can be varied. It is easy to choose different types of command input and displays, and results can be recorded for replay and analysis.

The software is designed for the smooth integration of alternative techniques for ISS research. New simulations may be incorporated to explore a variety of tasks.

The Training System: THOUGHTSTICKER

The Training System is based on Conversation Theory. Conversation Theory applies cybernetic analysis to the formal study of human discourse, and provides powerful and practical techniques for computer based training. From this approach, software has been developed in which the system responds to the specific needs and knowledge of the user. The system, called THOUGHTSTICKER, provides tools for the elicitation, representation and conveyance of knowledge. Rather than being limited by the rigid conveniences of computer science, knowledge is embedded in software structures that reflect the way the learner thinks and acquires new knowledge. The results may be employed in real situations (i.e., during job performance) as well as in training.

The system can also assist in the creation of training material in sophisticated ways. It identifies conflicting assertions, suggests alternatives for resolving conflict, and prompts the author to provide a uniform level of detail and discussion. It is designed to handle problems associated with multiple authors, such as disagreement among assertions.

An extensive set of tools is available to permit research into the evolution of knowledge structures. Additionally it is possible to shield the user from unnecessary or confusing details, while still providing the key features of the research.

This training software embodies an approach to learning derived from Conversation Theory. It is capable of choosing specific directions in its knowledge structure that are calculated to suit the user's present interest and thinking. Alternatively, the user can become the initiator of new directions based on curiosity or uncertainty, when the system becomes passive and allows the user to move through the knowledge structure at will.

The core training heuristics have been converted to the standard Navy personal computer configuration as a training component for their Skills Enhancement Program (described later).

Further description of THOUGHTSTICKER provides some details of the approach and features.

Naval Command and Control Training

Naval Command and Control Training and decision making are studied in a specific application of the THOUGHTSTICKER training system, called the Expertise Tutor. The aim of this prototype is, again, to provide both training and assistance in complex tasks.

The Expertise Tutor consists of the following subsystems:
  1. The Describer is a facility that allows for the creation of, and subsequent training in, concepts and tactics necessary to play the game. Both text and graphics are available to demonstrate topics; for example, the number and nature of the vessels, their sonar features and the actions they may perform.
  2. The Prescriber is a facility that allows for the creation of, and subsequent training in, tactics. After the concept is presented in The Describer it can be explored in The Prescriber, which imposes the rules of the game. The Prescriber can then interpret the tactic (for example, "to evade contact, move perpendicular to its bearing at maximum speed") in the context of the current situation in the simulation. This produces a specific action relative to that specific situation.
  3. The Simulation Game is the naval simulation itself. Concepts learned in the Describer and interpreted in the Prescriber are performed here; for example, "Move south at speed of 10." The resulting game condition is shown in a graphic display. Computer opponents are provided to add challenge and increase the realism of the interaction. Game situations and sequences may be recorded for replay.
Each of the Expertise Tutor's subsystems performs a function necessary for users to formulate strategies and associated tactics, and to demonstrate the effects of their execution.

The interaction of the three subsystems of the Expertise Tutor produces a minimum example of an Intelligent Support System.

Once tactic descriptions and prescriptions become part of the Expertise Tutor's knowledge representation, they serve as the basis for training in game rules and tactics, and as advice for subsequent protagonists. The system uses the experience of previous players to suggest appropriate responses for the novel game situation.
Section 5 - Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation

PANGARO Incorporated History - Table of Contents