Relating Knowledge and Coordinated Action: The Knowledge of Preconditions Principle

Yoram Moses

The Knowledge of Preconditions principle (KoP) is proposed as a widely applicable connection between knowledge and action in multi-agent systems. Roughly speaking, it asserts that if some condition is a necessary condition for performing a given action A, then knowing that this condition holds is also a necessary condition for performing A. Since the specifications of tasks often involve necessary conditions for actions, the KoP principle shows that such specifications induce knowledge preconditions for the actions. Distributed protocols or multi-agent plans that satisfy the specifications must ensure that this knowledge be attained, and that it is detected by the agents as a condition for action. The knowledge of preconditions principle is formalised in the runs and systems framework, and is proven to hold in a wide class of settings. Well-known connections between knowledge and coordinated action are extended and shown to derive directly from the KoP principle: a "common knowledge of preconditions" principle is established showing that common knowledge is a necessary condition for performing simultaneous actions, and a "nested knowledge of preconditions" principle is proven, showing that coordinating actions to be performed in linear temporal order requires a corresponding form of nested knowledge.

In R Ramanujam: Proceedings Fifteenth Conference on Theoretical Aspects of Rationality and Knowledge (TARK 2015), Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA, June 4-6, 2015, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 215, pp. 231–245.
Published: 23rd June 2016.

ArXived at: http://dx.doi.org/10.4204/EPTCS.215.17 bibtex PDF
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