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Title: Defining the mechanisms of a cooperative computer system based on theories of cooperation
Author: Chui, Yoon Ping
ISNI:       0000 0001 3550 3490
Awarding Body: Loughborough University of Technology
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 1994
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There is a growing interest in the development of computer systems that are actively involved in the tasks of the users and serve to augment the users' creativity. Cooperative computing is a major contribution to this research field. A survey of current developments in knowledge based systems led to the conclusion that there has hitherto been an absence of a formal definition of the mechanisms of cooperative computer systems based on theories of cooperation. The work in this thesis seeks to provide a full definition of cooperation derived from the behaviours of living cooperative systems. Studies on human cooperation and cooperation in the animal kingdom, established that cooperation is a dynamic behaviour; in that the interaction processes between the cooperative partners serve to facilitate the achievement of a common goal, or a set of goals that are mutually desired by the partners. Partners in cooperation are interdependent: one member's actions are contingent on another. Therefore, the underlying processes which induce and maintain cooperation were identified. These are: communication between the partners; emergence of norms and roles governing the behaviour of the cooperating members; resolution of conflicts; distributed and coordinated activities. These factors were further elucidated within the context of small problem solving groups. A model of cooperationw hich encapsulatedth esef actors was produced. From the discussionso f the advantageso f cooperationw ithin different contexts, the potential for synergy was found to be the main benefit of cooperation. The potential for achieving this synergy between a human and a computer is the main motivation for the work undertaken in this research. From the theoretical analysis of cooperation, the underlying mechanisms of a cooperative computer were successfully defined. A conceptual model of human-computer cooperation was presented. It was established that the quality of cooperation is closely associated with the nature of the task. Therefore, it is not practicable to produce a general purpose cooperative system. A specific task must be used. Creative tasks of a problem identifying and solving nature, were found to be more suitable to cooperative behaviour than others. Typical of these, and the one selected, was computer screen design. Current screen design practice was analysed, and the functional requirements and knowledge base needs of the systems were established. The underlying mechanisms of cooperation were formalised and successfully implemented within a software exemplar, named COSY. COSY exhibits the behavioural characteristics of cooperation, and utilises the knowledge of screen design to support users in the task of formatting computer screens. COSY successfully demonstrated the synergistic relationship in its cooperation with the users. It is concluded that the approach undertaken in this thesis has lead to a successful definition and implementation of the formal mechanisms of cooperation in a computer system, one which potentially enhances the innovative and creative aspects of design work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Knowledge based expert systems ; Computer software ; Co-operative computing