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A Dynamic Coalitions Workbench: Final Report

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jeremy Bryans, Professor John Fitzgerald, Professor Cliff JonesORCiD, Dr Richard Payne



This report describes a proof-of-concept study demonstrating the analysis of dynamic coalition policies and structures by means of a tool based on a formal abstract model. The study suggests that such models may be valuable tools in designing for dynamic, adaptive behaviour in coalitions. Previous research has used formal modelling as a way of gaining insight into the range of types or patterns of dynamic coalition that may arise. Experience also suggests that human and organisational aspects are at least as important as technical approaches to the dependable operation of coalitions. The goal for this project was to investigate the application of formal modelling techniques, with tool support, to help explore the consequences of alternative designs for coalition structures and policies. The exploration was centered on the role of the human in a coalition, in terms of their understanding of information flows. A ``Dynamic Coalitions Workbench'' has been developed to allow the animation of a specific coalition model. Users, who may be domain experts, interact with the model by invoking membership and information exchange functions in response to prompts driven by a scenario. Interaction is via a simple graphical interface so that users require no familiarity with the technicalities of the underlying formal modelling language. A specific scenario, based on crisis management in a military context, has been developed in collaboration with Dstl to exercise the workbench. A variety of users, including one designated expert with relevant experience, were observed using the workbench and debriefed following each execution of the scenario. The users' observed behaviours and their comments have been recorded. The project outcomes suggest that formal models have potential as tools in developing our knowledge of the behaviours of dynamic coalitions, and in designing policies for specific coalition contexts. Next generation analysis tools, including proof and model checking, have the potential to provide higher assurance that key system-level properties are preserved in models during coalition evolution. The exploration of models by animation provides a basis for studying the behaviour and role of the individual in managing information in a complex dynamic environment.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bryans JW, Fitzgerald JS, Greathead D, Jones CB, Payne RJ

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: School of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 2008

Pages: 73

Print publication date: 01/04/2008

Source Publication Date: April 2008

Report Number: 1091

Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne