Detailed Study Design:
Approach and Methodology

The purpose of the long-term research project proposed is to investigate computational and logical models for describing, analysing, and verifying individual and aggregates of computational entities - which we refer to as computees - interacting in the context of global, open, and dynamic environments. The project is divided into three phases: formal models; computational models; verification and experiments. Each phase is planned to last for one year, and comprises of two Workpackages constituting the major focus of project activities for that year. Work on the foundational aspects feeds into the development of computational models and tools.

Phase 1: formal models. In the first phase of the project, we undertake studies that integrate hypothetical, temporal and argumentation-based reasoning to logically model individual computees. We then seek to develop a logical framework for interactions amongst computees. This will establish interactions amongst computees via direct communication, whether based on standard protocols or emerging from individual communicative behaviours.

Phase 2: computational models. In the second phase of the project, we develop computational models for the logical models of individual computees and their interactions. To support these computational models, a complete experimental demonstrator will also be developed, which will be tested on scenaria and examples of varying scales.

Phase 3: verification and experiments. In the third phase of the project, we identify significant and desirable properties of computees and their societies, and prove formally under what circumstances these properties hold. We validate our results further using a prototype demonstrator animating the formal models. The techniques developed provide a practical basis for the design of classes of systems and applications which require aggregate behaviour of computational entities .

The first activity defines and designs the basic metaphor of an electronic road for the exploration of information, taking into account users' multi-lingual backgrounds as well as different user profiles. These metaphors will form the building blocks for using novel technologies such as multimedia, parallel and distributed computing, digital libraries and networking in the construction of distributed interactive multimedia frameworks. The second activity capitalizes on the results from the first activity to proceed to the actual implementation and installation of prototype Electronic Roads in the region. The third activity will serve the purpose of the project's exploitation and evaluation. This activity aims to study the added value of regional cultural roads with respect to various aspects of the Information Society.

Even though each phase is planned on a yearly basis, work on each phase does not stop at specific times, and the investigations in each phase continue concurrently. The work of each workpackage is either a foreground activity or a background activity, depending on the phase of the project. Foreground activities of each phase will occupy most of the effort expended during that time. Background activities will continue concurrently, and will feed foreground activities at regular intervals, as marked by intermediate project meetings. In this way, early workpackages that have finished as foreground activities will continue to provide results, directions and feedback to later workpackages. On the other hand, later workpackages can generate new additional directions for earlier ones. As an example, the design of the formal models of phase 1 will pave the way for the development of the computational model and experimentation of phases 2 and 3. At the same time, phases 2 and 3 may produce new additional interesting unforeseen results that can feed back into research in phase 1.


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