Semantics and Pragmatics for Agent Communication

  • Rodrigo Agerri
  • Eduardo Alonso
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3808)


For the successful management of interactions in open multi-agent systems, a social framework is needed to complement a standard semantics and interaction protocols for agent communication. In this paper a rights-based framework in which interaction protocols and conversation policies acquire their meaning is presented. Rights improve interaction and facilitate social action in multi-agent domains. Rights allow agents enough freedom, and at the same time constrain them (prohibiting specific actions). A general framework for agent communication languages (ACLs) is proposed, defining a set of performatives (semantics) and showing why a set of conversation policies to guide agent’s interactions (pragmatics) is needed. Finally, we show how it is possible to model interaction protocols within a rights-based normative open MAS.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alonso, E.: Rights and argumentation in open multi-agent systems. Artificial Intelligence Review 21, 3–24 (2004)MATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Austin, J.L.: How to do Things with Words. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1962)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cohen, P., Levesque, H.: Intention is Choice with Commitment. Artificial Intelligence 42, 213–261 (1990)MATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cost, R.S., Chen, Y., Finin, T., Labrou, Y., Peng, Y.: Modeling agent conversations with colored petri nets. In: Workshop on Specifying and Implementing Conversation Policies, Third International Conference on Autonomous Agents (Agents 1999), Seattle (1999)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dastani, M., van der Ham, J., Dignum, F.: Communication for goal directed agents. In: Huget, M.P. (ed.) Communication in Multiagent Systems - Agent Communication Languages and Conversation Policies. LNCS, vol. 2003, pp. 239–252. Springer, Heidelberg (2003)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dastani, M., Riemsdijk, M., Dignum, F., Meyer, J.J.: A programming language for cognitive agents: Goal-directed 3apl. In: Dastani, M., Dix, J., Fallah-Seghrouchni, A.E. (eds.) Programming Multi-Agent Systems. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 3037, pp. 111–130. Springer, Berlin (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Emerson, E.A.: Temporal and modal logic. In: van Leeuwen, J. (ed.) Handbook of Theoretical Computer Science, vol. B, pp. 995–1072. North Holland, Amsterdam (1990)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Esteva, M., Rodriguez, J.A., Sierra, C., Garcia, P., Arcos, J.L.: On the formal specification of electronic institutions. In: Dignum, F., Sierra, C. (eds.) Agent-mediated Electronic Commerce (The European AgentLink Perspective). LNCS (LNAI), vol. 1191, pp. 126–147. Springer, Berlin (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    FIPA ACL: FIPA Communicative Act Library Specification (2002),
  10. 10.
    Fornara, N., Colombetti, M.: A commitment-based approach to agent communication. Applied Artificial Intelligence 18, 853–866 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fornara, N., Vigano, F., Colombetti, M.: Agent communication and institutional reality. In: van Eijk, R.M., Huget, M.-P., Dignum, F.P.M. (eds.) AC 2004. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 3396, pp. 1–17. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Greaves, M., Holmback, H., Bradshaw, J.: What is a Conversation Policy? In: Dignum, F., Greaves, M. (eds.) Issues in Agent Communication, pp. 118–131. Springer, Heidelberg (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kagal, L., Finin, T., Joshi, A.: A policy language for a pervasive computing environment. In: IEEE 4th International Workshop on Policies for Distributed Systems and Networks (2003)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Manna, Z., Pnueli, A.: The Temporal Logic of Reactive and Concurrent Systems. Springer, Berlin (1995)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Norman, T.J., Sierra, C., Jennings, N.R.: Rights and commitment in multi-agent agreements. In: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems, pp. 222–229 (1998)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Rao, A., Georgeff, M.: Modeling rational agents within a BDI-architecture. In: Allen, J., Fikes, R., Sandewall, E. (eds.) 2nd International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning (KR 1991), pp. 473–484. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco (1991)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rovatsos, M., Nickles, M., Weiss, G.: Interaction is Meaning: A new Model for Communication in Open Systems. In: Proceedings of the Second International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2003), Melbourne, Australia (2003)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Searle, J.R.: Speech Acts. In: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1969)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Singh, M.P.: A social semantics for agent communication languages. In: Dignum, F.P.M., Greaves, M. (eds.) Issues in Agent Communication. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 1916. Springer, Heidelberg (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    van der Torre, L.: Contextual deontic logic: Normative agents, violations and independence. Ann. Math. Artif. Intell. 37, 33–63 (2003)MATHCrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    van der Torre, L., Hulstijn, J., Dastani, M., Broersen, J.: Specifying multiagent organizations. In: Lomuscio, A., Nute, D. (eds.) DEON 2004. LNCS (LNAI), vol. 3065, pp. 243–257. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wooldridge, M.: Semantic issues in the verification of agent communication languages. Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems 3, 9–31 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodrigo Agerri
    • 1
  • Eduardo Alonso
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of ComputingCity UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations