Complexity theory and collaboration: An agent-based simulator for a space mission design team

  • Narjès Bellamine-Ben Saoud
  • Gloria Mark


In this paper, we investigate how complexity theory can benefit collaboration by applying an agent-based computer simulation approach to a new form of synchronous real-time collaborative engineering design. Fieldwork was conducted with a space mission design team during their actual design sessions, to collect data on their group conversations, team interdependencies, and error monitoring and recovery practices. Based on the fieldwork analysis, an agent-based simulator was constructed. The simulation shows how error recovery and monitoring is affected by the number of small group, or sidebar, conversations, and consequent noise in the room environment. This simulation shows that it is possible to create a virtual environment with cooperating agents interacting in a dynamic environment. This simulation approach is useful for identifying the best scenarios and eliminating potential catastrophic combinations of parameters and values, where error recovery and workload in collaborative engineering design could be significantly impacted. This approach is also useful for defining strategies for integrating solutions into organizations.


Extreme collaboration Collaborative design Complexity theory Agent-based modeling and simulation Map of interdependencies Errors Sidebar conversations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RIADI-GDL LaboratoryUniversity of TunisTunisTunisia
  2. 2.Department of InformaticsUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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