Friday, February 25, 2005

Multi-Agent Systems and Complexity

There will an interesting sesssion on Multi-Agent Systems and Complexity at the Complexity, Science and Society conference coming up in September in Liverpool, UK. Modeling of software agents and their interactions becomes an enormous issue as software agents proliferate and the interactions among them become more intense. They become known as a Complex Adaptive System (CAS). The conference session blurb notes that:
Agent models have long been applied in economics and the social sciences as models of complex phenomena. In recent years, the design and study of systems of software agents has arisen in Computer Science, where it promises to change the prevailing object-oriented paradigm in software engineering (see: Luck, McBurney and Preist 2003, Zambonelli and Parunak 2003). Such agent models treat the individual agents as intelligent, autonomous entities engaged in purposeful interaction with one another, and study both the decision-making processes of the individual agents and the mechanisms for interaction between them. This deeply theoretical and very applied work in Computer Science has created the possibility of significantly more sophisticated multi-agent computer models of real-world complex, adaptive systems.

Conversely, it is possible to conceive of complex computational systems, such as the Internet, as systems of interacting, intelligent agents. The design, management and control of these systems may therefore benefit from learnings in the social and physical sciences regarding complex, adaptive systems. Several major computer hardware vendors have recently announced initiatives in which these ideas figure prominently: HP's utility computing, IBM's on demand computing, and Sun's N1 systems.

This conference session aims to explore these ideas from both directions: multi-agent systems (MAS) as models of complex phenomena, and complex computational systems viewed as systems of interacting agents. Because both threads involve several theoretical and applied disciplines, the session hopes to generate multi-disciplinary conversations, debate and exchange.


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