Activity Theory as a Framework for MAS Coordination

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Approaches to the coordination of multiagent systems (MAS) have been recently classified as subjective — typically coming from the distributed artificial intelligence (DAI) —, and objective — coming from the community of Coordination Models and Languages.
Subjective and objective approaches have a very different impact on the engineering of social aspects of MAS, in particular with respect to the ability of specifying and enacting social laws to achieve global coherent behaviours. In this work, we provide a conceptual framework — influenced by the research on Activity Theory — where both subjective and objective coordination play an essential role, each providing effective means for the same coordination/cooperative problems at different abstraction and operational levels: co-construction/co-operation level for subjective coordination, and coordination level for objective coordination. In particular, the work shows the benefits of supporting dynamic transitions between such levels, alternating co-operation stages — in which agents reason about coordination and cooperatively forge coordination artifacts (laws, constraints, norms) — and co-ordination stages — where the artifacts, embodied in proper coordination media, are exploited, so as to enact automated, consistent and prescriptive coordination.

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reference publication
page_white_acrobatActivity Theory as a Framework for MAS Coordination (paper in proceedings, 2003) — Alessandro Ricci, Andrea Omicini, Enrico Denti