Coordination, the process by which an agent reasons about its local actions and the (anticipated) actions of others to try and ensure the community acts in a coherent manner, is perhaps the key problem of the discipline of Distributed Artificial Intelligence (DAI). In order to make advances it is important that the theories and principles which guide this central activity are uncovered and analysed in a systematic and rigourous manner. To this end, this paper models agent communities using a distributed goal search formalism, and argues that commitments (pledges to undertake a specific course of action) and conventions (means of monitoring commitments in changing circumstances) are the foundation of coordination in all DAI systems.
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