, Volume 37, Issue 1-2, pp 131-167

Unifying Agent Systems

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Abstract

Whilst there has been an explosion of interest multi-agent systems, there are still many problems that may have a potentially deleterious impact on the progress of the area. These problems have arisen primarily through the lack of a common structure and language for understanding multi-agent systems, and with which to organise and pursue research in this area. In response to this, previous work has been concerned with developing a computational formal framework for agency and autonomy which, we argue, provides an environment in which to develop, evaluate, and compare systems and theories of multi-agent systems. In this paper we go some way towards justifying these claims by reviewing the framework and showing what we can achieve within it by developing models of agent dimensions, categorising key inter-agent relationships and by applying it to evaluate existing multi-agent systems in a coherent computational model. We outline the benefits of specifying each of the systems within the framework and consider how it allows us to unify different systems and approaches in general.