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  • sissy2018

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Hierarchical Self-awareness and Authority for Scalable Self-integrating Systems

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Abstract

System self-integration from open sets of components provides the basis for open adaptability to unpredictable environments. Hierarchical architectures are essential for enabling such systems to scale, as they allow to compromise between processing detailed knowledge in parallel and coordinating parallel processes from a more abstract viewpoint; recursively. This position paper aims to bring to the fore the following key design aspect of such hierarchical systems: how should the authority of decision and action be assigned across hierarchical levels, with respect to the self-awareness capabilities of these levels, The difficulty lays in that all levels lack knowledge, which may be key to certain decisions, because lower levels have detailed knowledge but within a narrow scope (good for local customisation), and higher levels have a broader scope but no details (good for global coordination). We highlight the most obvious authority schemes available and discuss their advantages and shortcomings: top-down, bottom-up, and iterative (yoyo). We discuss three detailed application examples from our previous work on hierarchical systems, pointing-out the knowledge and authority schemes employed and the possible alternatives. This provides a basis for offering system designers the necessary understanding and tools for taking the appropriate decisions with respect to the distribution of self-awareness capabilities and authority of decision and action across hierarchical system levels.