Coordination among agents performing interdependent tasks in a distributed problem-solving system is of crucial relevance with respect to the overall performance achieved by the system. Various forms of coordination require communication among agents which may accidentally be distorted. This paper investigates how sensitive different coordination mechanisms, employed in distributed problem-solving systems, are to unintentional communication errors. For this, an agent-based simulation based on the framework of NK fitness landscapes is employed. The study controls for different levels of erroneous communication and complexity of the problems to be solved collaboratively. The results provide broad, though not universal support for detrimental effects of erroneous communication and suggest that the various coordination mechanisms under investigation show different sensitivity to communication errors. Moreover, the results indicate that the complexity of the overall problem to be solved and the objectives pursued by the agents considerably shape the robustness of coordination mechanisms against erroneous communication. The results shed some new light on the relation between communication and coordination and, in particular, may contribute to the organizational design of error tolerant Systems.
Agent-based simulation; Communication Errors; Complexity; Coordination; Multiple controls; NK fitness landscapes; Robustness
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