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Information Resources Management Association
Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Designing Agents with Negotiation Capabilities

Designing Agents with Negotiation Capabilities
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Author(s): Jana Polgar (Monash University, Australia)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch167


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Agents are viewed as the next significant software abstraction, and it is expected they will become as ubiquitous as graphical user interfaces are today. Agents are specialized programs designed to provide services to their users. Multiagent systems have a key capability to reallocate tasks among the members, which may result in significant savings and improvements in many domains, such as resource allocation, scheduling, e-commerce, and so forth. In the near future, agents will roam the Internet, selling and buying information and services. These agents will evolve from their present day form - simple carriers of transactions - to efficient decision makers. It is envisaged that the decisionmaking processes and interactions between agents will be very fast (Kephart, 1998). The importance of automated negotiation systems is increasing with the emergence of new technologies supporting faster reasoning engines and mobile code. A central part of agent systems is a sophisticated reasoning engine that enables the agents to reallocate their tasks, optimize outcomes, and negotiate with other agents. The negotiation strategy used by the reasoning engine also requires high-level inter-agent communication protocols, and suitable collaboration strategies. Both of these sub-systems – a reasoning engine and a negotiation strategy - typically result in complicated agent designs and implementations that are difficult to maintain. Activities of a set of autonomous agents have to be coordinated. Some could be mobile agents, while others are static intelligent agents. We usually aim at decentralized coordination, which produces the desired outcomes with minimal communication. Many different types of contract protocols (cluster, swaps, and multiagent, as examples) and negotiation strategies are used. The evaluation of outcomes is often based on marginal cost (Sandholm, 1993) or game theory payoffs (Mass-Colell, 1995). Agents based on constraint technology use complex search algorithms to solve optimization problems arising from the agents’ interaction. In particular, coordination and negotiation strategies in the presence of incomplete knowledge are good candidates for constraint-based implementations.

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