E4MAS 2004

1st International Workshop on Environments for Multi-Agent Systems

There is a general agreement in the multi-agent research community that environments are essential for multi-agent systems, yet researchers neglect to integrate the environment as a primary abstraction in their models and tools for multi-agent systems. Popular frameworks such as Jade, Jack, Retsina or Zeus reduce the environment to a message transport system or broker infrastructure. Well known methodologies such as Prometheus or Tropos offer support for some basic elements of the environment, however they fail to consider the environment as a first class entity. Even in the FIPA specifications it is hard to find any functionality for the environment that goes beyond message transport or broker systems. Restricting interaction to inter-agent communication neglects a rich potential of possibilities for the paradigm of multi-agent systems.
Researchers working in the domain of situated multi-agent systems traditionally integrate the environment as a first class entity. In situated multi-agent systems, the environment is an active entity with its own processes that can change its own state, independent of the activity of the embedded agents. Inspired by biological systems, several researchers have shown that the environment can serve as a robust self-revising common memory for agents. This can unburden the individual agents from continuously keeping track of their knowledge about the system. Moreover, it enables the agents to use their environment as an excellent medium for indirect coordination. Gradient fields and evaporating marks in the environment can guide agents in their local context and as such facilitate the coordination in a community of agents in a distributed fashion. Since the exploitation of the environment in situated multi-agent systems has shown to result in quite manageable solutions with very adaptable qualities it is a promising paradigm to deal with the increasingly complexity and dynamism of coming system infrastructure and problem domains, e.g. ad hoc networks or ubiquitous computing.
Despite the large amount of work in the domain of situated multi-agent systems, we are just at the very beginning of understanding the complex principles behind the concepts of environment and the interplay between agents and environment. The aim of the 1st International Workshop on Environments for Multi-Agent Systems is to put environment on the agenda of the multi-agent research community and open a forum for discussion on this important topic.

works as
origin event for publication
page_white_acrobatEnvironment-Based Coordination Through Coordination Artifacts (paper in proceedings, 2005) — Alessandro Ricci, Mirko Viroli, Andrea Omicini
page_white_acrobat“Exhibitionists” and “Voyeurs” do it better: A Shared Environment Approach for Flexible Coordination with Tacit Messages (paper in proceedings, 2005) — Luca Tummolini, Cristiano Castelfranchi, Alessandro Ricci, Mirko Viroli, Andrea Omicini
page_white_acrobatEnvironments for Multi-Agent Systems (edited volume, 2005) — Danny Weyns, H. Van Dyke Parunak, Fabien Michel
series event