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Figure 5. Domains - modules - formalisms
Figure 6. 'Bad' versus 'good' formalisms
In the context of our research we considered
at least three kinds of infinite regress problems:
1. observation , or the gathering of information,
2. memory , or the storage of information,
3. computation , or the manipulation of
4. communication , or the transmission of
1. First, we have to decide how to decide on
the particular collaboration act we aim to
proceed to (and this may lead to an infinite
regress). Assuming we have decided how to
2. we have to find the optimal level of infor-
mation and deliberation before the decision
rule can be used. Once again, it is possible
that this leads to an infinite regress.
3. Finally, we might ask about the optimal use
of a given set of information.
A Note on Formalisms
As shown in Figure 5, based on a domain con-
ceptualisation , we aim to set a framework that
will be expressed by a respective formalism that
will support certain collaboration models. Now,
the challenging point is whether the (universe of
the) actually intended models will fall close to
this of the (universe of the) actually supported
ones or not.
As shown in Figure 6, it is easy to identify and
distinguish between a “bad” formalism and a
(sufficiently) “good” enough in similar ways to
one is using to assess the expressive power of a
controlled language.
Much work on controlled languages has been
motivated by the ambition to find the right trade-
off between expressiveness and processability
(Fuchs, 1996). An alternative suggested by sev-
eral researchers related to bringing into play a
“hierarchy of controlled languages” 1 , ordered by
the degree to which they semantically approximate
the target formalism.
Continuing the analogy with controlled lan-
guages, in our research we aimed to design the
Now, we should not need to provide evidence
that these problems are separate. For instance,
deciding how to decide requires us to collect in-
formation, and this leads to the second problem.
We nevertheless tend to think that even if we
could collect an optimal level of information,
one might still have an infinite regress problem
in deciding how to decide. Even if we assume
that the optimal level of information is known at
every stage, this does not automatically ensure
that there is a final end-point.
Collaboration theorists often note the infinite
regress problem briefly, only to assume it away
or decline to discuss it - however, it is something
that has direct and practical implications. In this
respect, that for Radner (Radner, 1996) it is con-
venient to classify the costly (resource-using) ac-
tivities of such decision-making into four groups:
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