Hierarchical Planning in BDI Agent Programming Languages: A Formal Approach

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Sebastian Sardina, Lavindra de Silva, Lin Padgham
Peter Stone, Gerhard Weiss (eds.)
5th International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS '06), pages 1001–1008
ACM, Hakodate, Japan
May 2006

This paper provides a general mechanism and a solid theoretical basis for performing planning within Belief-Desire-Intention (BDI) agents. BDI agent systems have emerged as one of the most widely used approaches to implementing intelligent behaviour in complex dynamic domains, in addition to which they have a strong theoretical background. However, these systems either do not include any built-in capacity for "lookahead" type of planning or they do it only at the implementation level without any precise defined semantics. In some situations, the ability to plan ahead is clearly desirable or even mandatory for ensuring success. Also, a precise definition of how planning can be integrated into a BDI system is highly desirable. By building on the underlying similarities between BDI systems and Hierarchical Task Network (HTN) planners, we present a formal semantics for a BDI agent programming language which cleanly incorporates HTN-style planning as a built-in feature. We argue that the resulting integrated agent programming language combines the advantages of both BDI agent systems and hierarchical offline planners.