The purpose of this paper is to present the design principles and features of a communication scheme that has been used to support cooperative problem solving within a network of knowledge-based systems. In presenting this account, we attempt to answer a set of critical yet unsettled questions of cooperative systems communication, such as when and how a knowledge-based system knows that message to send, what the conditions of success are for a message, and how individual systems cooperate with each other for different purposes. To achieve this, we first propose two key design principles: 1) the loose coupling of communication issues and knowledge representation issues, and 2) the notion of communicative acts. We then work these ideas into the communication scheme COSMO, whose key features include knowledge handlers, an operation model, organizationl roles, message types, communication strategies, and protocols.
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