Using the Experimental Method to Produce Reliable Self-Organised Systems

By: Bruce Edmonds
Date: 30th March 2004
CPM Report No.: CPM-04-131

Presented at: The 2nd International Workshop on Engineering Self-Organising Applications (ESOA 2004) at 3rd AAMAS, New York, July 2004.

Published as: Edmonds, B. (2004) Using the Experimental Method to Produce Reliable Self-Organised Systems. In Brueckner, S. et al. (eds.) Engineering Self Organising Sytems: Methodologies and Applications, Springer, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 3464:84-99.


The ‘engineering’ and ‘adaptive’ approaches to system production are distinguished. It is argued that producing reliable self-organised software systems (SOSS) will necessarily involve considerable use of adaptive approaches.  A class of apparently simple multi-agent systems is defined, which however has all the power of a Turing machine, and hence is beyond formal specification and design methods (in general).  It is then shown that such systems can be evolved to perform simple tasks.  This highlights how we may be faced with systems whose workings we have not wholly designed and hence that we will have to treat them more as natural science treat the systems it encounters, namely using the classic experimental method.  An example is briefly discussed. A system for annotating such systems with hypotheses, and conditions of application is proposed that would be a natural extension of current methods of open source code development.

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