Report Number: CS-TR-90-1323
Institution: Stanford University, Department of Computer Science
Title: Protograms
Author: Mozes, Eyal
Author: Shoham, Yoav
Date: July 1990
Abstract: Motivated largely by tasks that require control of complex processes in a dynamic environment, we introduce a new computational construct called a protogram. A protogram is a program specifying an abstract course of action, a course that allows for a range of specific actions, from which a choice is made through interaction with other protograms. We discuss the intuition behind the notion, and then explore some of the details involved in implementing it. Specifically, we (a) describe a general scheme of protogram interaction, (b) describe a protogram interpreter that has been implemented, dealing with some special cases, (c) describe three applications of the protogram interpreter, one in data processing and two in robotics (both currently only implemented as simulations), (d) describe some more general possible implementations of a protogram interpreter, and (e) discuss how protograms can be useful for the Gofer project. We also briefly discuss the origins of protograms in psychology and linguistics, compare protograms to blackboard and subsumption architectures, and discuss directions for future research.