Thursday, February 24, 2005

Environments for multi-agent systems

A workshop entitled "Environments for Multiagent Systems (E4MAS'05)" will be held at the next Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS) to be held July 25-26, 2005 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. As the workshop blurb notes, with all the attention given to software agents themselves, not near enough attention is given to the environments in which these agents operate:
There is a general agreement in the multiagent systems research community that the environment where agents are situated in is an essential part of any multiagent system. Yet, most researchers and developers either fail to integrate the environment as a first-order abstraction in models and tools for multiagent systems, or minimize the environment's role within the overall system. Functionality associated with the environment is typically limited to message transport or broker infrastructure.

Researchers working in the domain of situated multiagent systems have demonstrated how agents can exploit the environment to share information and coordinate their behavior. For example, digital pheromones and gradient fields can guide agents in their local context and as such facilitate the coordination of a community of agents in a decentralized way. Several practical applications have shown that the environment can contribute to manage complex problems, such as supply chains systems, network management, manufacturing control or multiagent simulation. Clearly, if we limit the functionality of the environment to only message transport, we neglect a rich potential of possibilities for the paradigm of multiagent systems.

The goals of the E4MAS workshop series are to promote the environment as a first-order abstraction in multiagent systems and to further develop the discussion forum on environments.

More details can be found on the workshop web page, as well as the page for scope and main topic areas.

There is also a white paper entitled "Environments for Multiagent Systems State-of-the-Art and Research Challenges."

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