From Physical to Virtual: Widening the Perspective on Multi-Agent Environments
Since more than a decade, the environment is seen as a key element when analyzing, developing or deploying Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) applications. Especially, for the development of multi-agent platforms it has become a key concept, similarly to many application in the area of location-based, distributed systems. An emerging, prominent application area for MAS is related to Virtual Environments. The underlying technology has evolved in a way, that these applications have grown out of science fiction novels till research papers and even real applications. Even more, current technologies enable MAS to be key components of such virtual environments.
In this paper, we widen the concept of the environment of a MAS to encompass new and mixed physical, virtual, simulated, etc. forms of environments. We analyze currently most interesting application domains based on three dimensions: the way different “realities” are mixed via the environment, the underlying natures of agents, the possible forms and sophistication of interactions. In addition to this characterization, we discuss how this widened concept of possible environments influences the support it can give for developing applications in the respective domains.
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