Coping with conflict in cooperative knowledge-based systems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Cooperative Problem Solving (CPS) is an important paradigm that will extend the power of current information systems to provide broader, cheaper services and to solve larger, and increasingly, more complex problems. In this paper, we address a critical issue of this new mode of computing: the existence of conflict among distributed agents. In particular, we focus our study on Cooperative Knowledge-Based Systems (CKBS). To obtain a better understanding and more balanced judgement of multiagent conflict, we provide a general scheme to study the logical structure of multiagent conflict and rational strategies of coping with it under different situations. Our research finding is that there is no grand unified theory of coping with conflict in performing complex real-world computer supported tasks. Instead, a library of alternative methods should be considered. We discuss four methods: inquiry, arbitration, persuasion, and accommodation. These methods can be combined in an order appropriate to the application domain such that if one method fails, the system will try the next. We point out merits and shortcomings of these methods and illustrate them using several high-level protocols and application examples from a prototype system, Building Design Network (BDN).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Part A:Systems and Humans.
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Collaborative design
  • Communication protocols
  • Cooperative problem solving
  • Knowledge-based systems
  • Multiagent conflict resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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