What an intelligent agent chooses to do depends on his available resources. The available resources are typically measured in quantitative, rather than qualitative terms. A logic based on a qualitative time structure can model qualitative constraints like ``agent always knows before agent knows it''. It fails, however, when the constraints placed on the resources are given in quantitative terms. It is not possible to express, e.g., that an agent can compute the solution to some problem within a certain time period.
The language of dynamic-epistemic logic does not allow the operator to occur within the scope of any knowledge operator. Consequently, the capacities of the dynamic-epistemic systems to model meta-reasoning are rather restricted. For example, (``agent knows that agent knows '') and (``after some reasoning agent will know that agent knows '') are well-formed formulae, but (``agent knows that agent will know after some reasoning'') and (``after some reasoning agent will know that agent will know after some reasoning'') are not.
To be able to model resource boundedness within the language we consider another notion of knowledge. The main intuition is the following. An agent's action depends not only on what he currently knows, but also on what he is able to infer within some specific amount of time (intuitively, the time within which a decision must be made -- a classical example being the time available to make the next move in chess.) Given that an agent needs to accomplish a task within an hour but does not yet know what actions he must perform, it cannot be inferred that he will not finish his job in time: he may be able to calculate the plan and finish it before the deadline. If an agent knows that another agent must act under some time constraint, he may infer what the second agent can or cannot know under this constraint and predict his action accordingly. Therefore, it must be considered what agents can reliably know within time units, and not only what they currently know, i.e., what they know within unit of time. Thus, we shall analyze sentences of the form ``if asked about , can derive reliably the answer within time units'', instead of sentences of the form ``agent knows (now)''.
In the informal characterization of knowledge above, the qualification ``reliably'' is important. It distinguishes an agent's ability to bring about certain states of affairs from the mere logical possibility that such states of affairs may obtain. The difference can be illustrated by an example. A shooter may accidentally hit a target at 1 km distance, but it cannot be said that he has that ability. It cannot be safely assumed that he will succeed if he decides to try. He may hit the target once but the success is not repeatable. Hence, although there is the possibility that he can perform a certain action, he does not have the ability to do it. In the context of reasoning actions, an agent may possess a large number of algorithms which can be applied to compute knowledge. If he chooses to derive from his current knowledge, he may by chance succeed very quickly if he applies the right algorithm. However, if he happens to select another algorithm then it may take very long to compute the same sentence. It can even the case that the algorithm does not terminate at all. But if it cannot be safely assumed that the agent can compute in time, then generally the possible knowledge of is not enough to justify his action. Reliability implies that the agent is able to select deterministically a suitable procedure for the input and compute the answer within finite time.
Our goal is to represent not only what agents know or can know, but also when they are expected to know what they can know. The first question is answered by specifying the logic used by agents in their reasoning, and the second one by a complexity analysis. What an agent knows or can derive from his knowledge is determined by the logic he uses in his reasoning. An agent may not know a sentence now, but he may possess a procedure to infer that sentence and know it at some future point. The amount of time needed to compute that knowledge depends on several factors, of which the most important ones are the complexity of the sentence and the agent's reasoning power. If the complexity of a sentence and the computation speed of an agent are known then the time he needs to infer the sentence can be estimated.