Environments for Multi-Agent Systems II

Volume 3830 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science pp 88-104

The Governing Environment

  • Michael SchumacherAffiliated withArtificial Intelligence Lab, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
  • , Sascha OssowskiAffiliated withArtificial Intelligence Unit, Universidad del Rey Juan Carlos

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Whenever a multiagent system is designed, many dependencies in the system are identified and must be solved in a correct way. Coordination deals with the management of such dependencies. For that, two complementary viewpoints can be distinguished: subjective coordination manages intra-agent aspects while objective coordination essentially deals with inter-agent aspects. On the basis of this separation of concerns, the paper discusses the need of infrastructures for objective coordination. As in usual agent software platforms, this can be done by offering implicit support for objective coordination, by establishing the conditions necessary for running agent programs and maintaining agent interactions. Other infrastructures such as Electronic Institutions go one step further and shape the governing aspects of objective coordination. However, this is usually done through dedicated middle-agents that belong to the institution. An alternative approach is to transfer the governing or regulating responsibility from institutional agents to the environment of a multiagent system. A promising way of doing this is to view the environment as a rule-based infrastructure that defines reactions to events. This has the advantage of allowing for the definition of laws that not only regulate agent interaction (as most work in governed interaction), but any action within the environment. We illustrate this approach by several examples in different domains of laws.