Coordination and Convergence

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been messily taking bites out of a very large theoretical ecosystem surrounding computation, interaction and language. I’ve been trying to apply some of these concepts, as well as more ‘everyday’ concepts from my life as a programmer, to more concrete scenarios or problems.

What is coordination, and how do multiple agents coordinate? What is the role of language in coordination? Can a coordinating conversation between agents be understood in computational terms? Can all conversations be contextualised in terms of coordination?

Coordination involves multiple agents coming to an agreement (converging) on a possibility or set of possibilities, which would result in some action.

Language facilitates an agent’s construction and differentiation of possibilities, as well as the agent’s sharing and expressing those possibilities with/to other agents.

Convergence occurs when some of the possibilities projected by one agent ‘matches’ those projected by the other agent(s). This would be intersection in basic set theory: for example, given that  A={2,4,6,8,10}  and  B={1,2,3,4,5}, the intersection is AB={2,4}.

Of course, those possibilities have to be consistent in type. If I’m having a conversation with someone about whether they liked X movie — i.e. if I’m looking for a boolean-type, yes/no, true/false response) — it would not be appropriate to respond with an array of dates, for example. An array of date-times would be appropriate if I were trying to coordinate when I could watch a movie with someone.

There is something in this process that greatly resembles that of normalisation/reduction in programming, for me. I’d like to tease this out further.


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