A heuristic technique for multi‐agent planning

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The subject of multi‐agent planning has been of continuing concern in Distributed Artificial Intelligence (DAI). In this paper, we suggest an approach to multi‐agent planning that contains heuristic elements. Our method makes use of subgoals, and derived sub‐plans, to construct a global plan. Agents solve their individual sub‐plans, which are then merged into a global plan. The suggested approach reduces overall planning time and derives a plan that approximates the optimal global plan that would have been derived by a central planner, given those original subgoals. We explore three different scenarios. The first involves a group of agents with a common goal. The second considers how agents can interleave planning and execution when planning towards a common, though dynamic, goal. The third examines the case where agents, each with their own goal, can plan together to reach a state in consensus for the group. Finally, we consider how these approaches can be adapted to handle rational, manipulative agents.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.