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An investigation of potential organizations for automated distributed sensor networks (DSNs), i.e., dispersed nodes that can pool their information to perform accurate situation assessment. Laboratory experiments using a message puzzle task indicate that an "anarchic committee" organization, in which all nodes communicate with one another, consistently outperforms the "dynamic hierarchical cone" organization, in which communication is constrained and information must be obtained only from lower-level nodes. These experiments support the contention that DSNs must emphasize cooperative problem-solving rather than problem-reduction or subgoaling. A computer-based design that minimizes redundant communications in hierarchical organizations by using model-based reasoning to form expectations that guide, limit, and reduce reporting frequency is described. Finally, a method for representing hypotheses to minimize communication requirements--the process assembly network--is suggested. This concept uses active "hypotheses processes" that are responsible for predicting their own evolution over time.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.