Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 204–236 | Cite as

Multi-goal economic search using dynamic search structures

  • David Sarne
  • Efrat Manisterski
  • Sarit Kraus


This paper investigates cooperative search strategies for agents engaged in costly search in a complex environment. Searching cooperatively, several search goals can be satisfied within a single search effort. Given the searchers’ preferences, the goal is to conduct a search in a way that the expected overall utility out of the set of opportunities found (e.g., products when operating in a market) minus the costs associated with finding that set is maximized. This search scheme, given in the context of a group search, applies also to scenarios where a single agent has to search for a set of items for satisfying several different goals. The uniqueness of the proposed mechanism is in the ability to partition the group of agents/goals into sub-groups where the search continues for each group autonomously. As we show throughout the paper, this strategy is favorable as it weakly dominates (i.e., can improve but never worsen) cooperative and autonomous search techniques. The paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the new search method and highlights the specific characteristics of the optimal search strategy. Furthermore, we introduce innovative algorithms for extracting the optimal search strategy in a range of common environments, that eliminates the computational overhead associated with the use of the partitioning technique.


Search theory Multi-agent systems Cooperative search Coalition formation 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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