Rob Kremer

Constraint Graphs: A Concept Map Meta-Language
(PhD Dissertation)

Constraint Graphs: A Concept Map Meta-Language
(PhD Dissertation)

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Concept maps are visual graphs, consisting of nodes, which represent concepts, and arcs, which represent relationships between the concepts. Concept maps are used in a wide variety of disciplines because of their ability to make complex information structures explicit. There are a wide variety of concept mapping languages ranging from informal to formal; all share the same fundamental structure (nodes and arcs), but they vary in many ways, including degree of formality (typing), allowable component types, component graphical attributes, inclusion of contexts, and miscellaneous constraints. There is a large design space in concept mapping languages and each design is difficult and time consuming to implement. A simple way to prototype new concept mapping languages (and modify old ones) would be a very useful tool.

Constraint Graphs is a system designed to address this problem. The idea is to define a minimal concept mapping system, then let the end-user build a language based on these fundamental components. The base system is a very flexible concept mapping tool which is unconstrained except for the very fundamentals of graph theory (even n-ary arcs are allowed). In addition to "vanilla" nodes and arcs the system has an "isa" arc type which can be used to create a type lattice within the map. Constraints based on the type lattice allow a user the flexibility to use informal concept maps, to use a wide variety of formalisms, or to gradually constrain an informal concept map into a formal one.

The properties of such a "meta-visual language" avails itself to a variety of new applications including experimentation in concept map formalisms and powerful type checking tools for visual notations such as are used in knowledge modeling and decision making.


Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Background: Visual Languages and their Domains

Chapter 3: Background: Types, Objects, and Specification

Chapter 4: Requirements Analysis

Chapter 5: Specification

Chapter 6: Design and Implementation

Chapter 7: Some Visual Languages Implemented in Constraint Graphs

Chapter 8: Extensions and Variations

Chapter 9: Conclusion


UofCConstraint Graphs: A Concept Map Meta-Language (PhD Dissertation), Department of Computer Science

Rob Kremer