Framing Coordination: From Transdisciplinary Models to Infrastructures and Tools for MAS Engineering

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In Multi-Agent Systems as in today complex systems in general, the problem of making the components of a system work together fruitfully and effectively is perhaps the most critical one. For this very reason, a huge number of different approaches, models and technologies have been proposed and introduced under a wide range of distinct names and "brands" – from interoperability to communication, from coordination to cooperation, from negotiation to orchestration.  And, despite of many attempts to provide an unified view, this huge variety is basically increasing over time, in response to the ever-growing complexity of system asking for new, powerful, multi-faceted models, technologies and methodologies at many different levels of abstractions.

In this tutorial, the presenters will provide the audience with a novel and general view over coordination that should make it possible to frame all the many different approaches from diverse research fields. Theories like Activity Theory and Organisation Theory, models like Linda and agent negotiation, infrastructures like TuCSoN and RETSINA, technologies like Web Services and FIPA ACL, application fields like WfMS and CSCW, are re-interpreted and fitted in the framework, so that they can be more easily related and compared. The modelling and engineering of non-trivial MAS can then be re-formulated around the concept of coordination artefact.

Attendants to the tutorial are required to be knowledgeable in any of the related approaches, and to have some general idea about agent-based metaphors and systems. As a result of this tutorial, attendants should be provided with a quite general overview over the many multi-disciplinary and inter-related fields that in any way deal with coordination, with a particular focus over MAS coordination, but also with a careful look to new notions like service-oriented architectures and orchestration, and emerging fields like pervasive computing and ambient intelligence.

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