The Distributed Vehicle Monitoring Testbed: A Tool for Investigating Distributed Problem Solving Networks

  • Victor R. Lesser
  • Daniel G. Corkill


Cooperative distributed problem solving networks are distributed networks of semi-autonomous processing nodes that work together to solve a single problem. The Distributed Vehicle Monitoring Testbed is a flexible and fully-instrumented research tool for empirically evaluating alternative designs for these networks. The testbed simulates a class of a distributed knowledge-based problem solving systems operating on an abstracted version of a vehicle monitoring task. There are two important aspects to the testbed: (1.) it implements a novel generic architecture for distributed problems solving networks that exploits the use of sophisticated local node control and meta-level control to improve global coherence in network problem solving; (2.) it serves as an example of how a testbed can be engineered to permit the empirical exploration of design issues in knowledge AI systems. The testbed is capable of simulating different degrees of sophistication in problem solving knowledge and focus-of attention mechanisms, for varying the distribution and characteristics of error in its (simulated) input data, and for measuring the progress of problem solving. Node configuration and communication channel characteristics can also be independently varied in the simulated network.