Intuition and Observation in the Design of Multi Agent Systems
CPM Report No.: 01-84
By: Scott Moss
Date: 06 November 2001
Both formal analysis in the sense of proving theorems about the properties
of agent and mechanism design and the use of formalisms as representation
languages have been central elements in the foundation of multi agent systems
research. The choice and frequently the development of formalisms
for the specification and description of multi agent systems has been guided
by intuition regarding the importance and nature of such concepts as belief
and intention. An alternative to this foundational approach is a representational
approach developed by modellers of observed social systems who design agents
and mechanisms to capture observed behaviour and modes of social interaction.
While the foundational approach has had an important influence on the research
agenda of agent based social simulation, the representational techniques
of agent based social simulation modellers have had no discernable influence
on formalistic approaches to software engineering for multi agent systems.
The purpose of this paper is to define a means of making available the
lessons of real social systems to adopting formal approaches to MAS design.
The means employed turns on the development of a canonical model capturing
features of an observed social system in a way that relates explicitly
to concepts such as belief, desire, intention, commitment, norms, obligation
and responsibility. As a result, it is possible to define these concepts
with minimal ambiguity either as an alternative to the use of formalisms
as representation languages or as a bridge to such formalisms.