Coordination Artifacts as First-class Abstractions for MAS Engineering: State of the Research

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Alessandro F. Garcia, Ricardo Choren, Carlos Lucena, Paolo Giorgini, Tom Holvoet, Alexander Romanovsky (eds.)
Software Engineering for Multi-Agent Systems IV: Research Issues and Practical Applications, pages 71–90
Lecture Notes in Computer Science 3914
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
April 2006

According to social / psychological theories like Activity Theory (AT), artifacts plays a fundamental role in the context of human organisations for supporting cooperative work and, more generally, complex collaboration activities. Artifacts are either physical or cognitive tools that are shared and exploited by the collectivity of individuals for achieving individual as well as global objectives. The conceptual framework of artifacts for MAS is meant to bring the same sort of approach to multiagent systems (MAS).
In particular, coordination artifacts are the entities used to shape the agent environment so as to fruitfully enable, promote and govern cooperative and social activities of agent ensembles. Thus, coordination artifacts also capture and extend the notion of coordination medium as coming from the distributed system and DAI fields, by generalising over abstractions like blackboards, tuple spaces and channels.
In this paper we account for the current state of the research on coordination artifacts. First we discuss the background from AT to artifact for MAS, then we summarise the model for the coordination artifact abstraction, and the state-of-the-art of the research on models, methods and technologies currently available for engineering MAS application with coordination artifacts.