Wednesday, 30 April 2008

THE question: What is "the problem"?

(Note: Terms enclosed in quotation marks below most likely require background knowledge to be properly understood.)

My problem to solve is as follows: Given a number of "agents", each with a number of "resources" and each with "desires" for resources that it may or may not have, how do the agents exchange resources so that each has/obtains the resources it desires?

My solution: Allow the agents to "dialogue" between themselves by means of "argumentative negotiation". This will be achieved by modularising the problem into three inter-related sub-problems:

(1) Defining the "dialogue protocol" for argumentative negotiation, i.e. what are the "messages" that agents can exchange? how are the messages connected to form an argumentative negotiation dialogue? what messages initiate the dialogue? what messages terminate the dialogue? when is a terminating dialogue "successful" and when is it "unsuccessful"?

(2) Defining the "agent policies", i.e. what does the agent do with incoming messages? how does the agent know what messages are allowed to be sent at a certain stage according to the protocol? out of all these allowed messages, which one does the agent select to send at a certain "turn"? why/how?

(3) Defining the "knowledge-base" ("inference rules", allowed "assumptions", "contraries" of assumptions etc) which guides the decision-making of the agent at the policy/"strategy" level.

Note to self: Agent policies are to be defined so that they are largely independent of the definition of the various knowledge-base components they call upon when run. This will allow modifying the underlying knowledge of the agent (i.e. how desires are specified, how preferences over resources are specified, how incentive for exchanging resources is specified, and so on) hence allowing the behaviour of the agents and results of the negotiations to be modified without having to modify the dialogue protocol or agent policies.

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