On Coordination and its Significance to Distributed and Multi-Agent Systems

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Sascha Ossowski, Ronaldo Menezes
Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience 18(4), pages 359-370
April 2006

Coordination is one of those words: it appears in most science and social fields, in politics, warfare, and it is even the subject of sports talks. While the usage of the word may convey different ideas to different people, the definition of coordination in all fields is quite similar—it relates to the control, planning, and execution of activities that are performed by distributed (perhaps independent) actors. Computer scientists involved in the field of distributed systems and agents focus on the distribution aspect of this concept. They see coordination as a separate field from all the others—a field that rather complements standard fields such as the ones mentioned above. This paper focuses on explaining the term coordination in relation to distributed and multi-agent systems. Several approaches to coordination are described and put in perspective. The paper finishes with a look at what we are calling emergent coordination and its potential for efficiently handling coordination in open environments