The Concept of Autonomy in Distributed Computation and Multi-Agent Systems

The Concept of Autonomy in Distributed Computation and Multi-Agent Systems

Mariusz Nowostawski (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-576-4.ch009
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Abstract

The concept of autonomy is one of the central concepts in distributed computational systems, and in multi-agent systems in particular. With diverse implications in philosophy, social sciences and the theory of computation, autonomy is a rather complicated and somewhat vague notion. Most researchers do not discuss the details of this concept, but rather assume a general, common-sense understanding of autonomy in the context of computational multi-agent systems. In this chapter, we will review the existing definitions and formalisms related to the notion of autonomy. We re-introduce two concepts: relative autonomy and absolute autonomy. We argue that even though the concept of absolute autonomy does not make sense in computational settings, it is useful if treated as an assumed property of computational units. For example, the concept of autonomous agents facilitates more flexible and robust architectures. We adopt and discuss a new formalism based on results from the study of massively parallel multi-agent systems in the context of Evolvable Virtual Machines. We also present the architecture for building such architectures based on our multi-agent system KEA, where we use an extended notion of dynamic and flexibly linking. We augment our work with theoretical results from chemical abstract machine algebra for concurrent and asynchronous information processing systems. We argue that for open distributed systems, entities must be connected by multiple computational dependencies and a system as a whole must be subjected to influence from external sources. However, the exact linkages are not directly known to the computational entities themselves. This provides a useful notion and the necessary means to establish an autonomy in such open distributed systems.
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Autonomy In Mas

Autonomy, from the Greek Auto-nomos (auto meaning self, and nomos meaning law), refers to an entity that gives oneself its own laws. In other words, autonomy means self-governance, and freedom from external influence or authority.

Generally, in multi-agent systems there are two basic attempts and formalisations of the concept of autonomy: internal and external views. The internal notion applies the above definition of autonomy to the agent itself, and specifies a set of principles or architectural constraints that are claimed for an autonomous operation of a given agent. The external view takes a different approach. It does not prescribe anything about internals of the agent or agent architecture itself. It is, rather, an assumption that other agents are autonomous in an abstract sense and cannot be controlled/influenced directly. Agent’s behaviour cannot be imposed by any other agent; hence the interactions and agents collaboration must take into account various aspects of the assumed participants’ autonomy. We discuss briefly these two notions below.

The general notion of autonomy is invariant of the usual architectural or behavioural interpretations. In the next subsections, we review proposals for the definition from the internal and the external point of view.

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Table of Contents
Preface
Dariusz Król, Ngoc Thanh Nguyen
Chapter 1
Juliusz L. Kulikowski
In this chapter, a concept of using incomplete or fuzzy ontologies in decision making is presented. A definition of ontology and of ontological... Sample PDF
Logical Inference Based on Incomplete and/or Fuzzy Ontologies
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Chapter 2
Amelia Badica, Costin Badica, Elvira Popescu
The Web is designed as a major information provider for the human consumer. However, information published on the Web is difficult to understand and... Sample PDF
Using Logic Programming and XML Technologies for Data Extraction from Web Pages
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Chapter 3
Andreas Jacobsson, Paul Davidsson
This chapter introduces a formal model of virtual enterprises, as well as an analysis of their creation and operation. It is argued that virtual... Sample PDF
A Formal Analysis of Virtual Enterprise Creation and Operation
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Chapter 4
Donat Orski
The chapter concerns a class of systems composed of operations performed with the use of resources allocated to them. In such operation systems... Sample PDF
Application of Uncertain Variables to Knowledge-Based Resource Distribution
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Chapter 5
Clive Fencott
This chapter undertakes a methodological study of virtual environments (VEs), a specific subset of interactive systems. It takes as a central theme... Sample PDF
A Methodology of Design for Virtual Environments
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Chapter 6
Salvador Sanchez-Alonso, Dirk Frosch-Wilke
In current organizations, the models of knowledge creation include specific processes and elements that drive the production of knowledge aimed at... Sample PDF
An Ontological Representation of Competencies as Codified Knowledge
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Chapter 7
Marcos De Oliveira, Martin Purvis
In the distributed multi-agent systems discussed in this chapter, heterogeneous autonomous agents interoperate in order to achieve their goals. In... Sample PDF
Aspects of Openness in Multi-Agent Systems: Coordinating the Autonomy in Agent Societies
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Chapter 8
Kostas Kolomvatsos, Stathes Hadjiefthymiades
The field of Multi-agent systems (MAS) has been an active area for many years due to the importance that agents have to many disciplines of research... Sample PDF
How Can We Trust Agents in Multi-Agent Environments? Techniques and Challenges
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Chapter 9
Mariusz Nowostawski
The concept of autonomy is one of the central concepts in distributed computational systems, and in multi-agent systems in particular. With diverse... Sample PDF
The Concept of Autonomy in Distributed Computation and Multi-Agent Systems
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Chapter 10
Maryam Purvis, Toktam Ebadi, Bastin Tony Roy Savarimuthu
The objective of this research is to describe a mechanism to provide an improved library management system using RFID and agent technologies. One of... Sample PDF
An Agent-Based Library Management System Using RFID Technology
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Chapter 11
Sharmila Savarimuthu, Martin Purvis, Maryam Purvis, Mariusz Nowostawski
Societies are made of different kinds of agents, some cooperative and uncooperative. Uncooperative agents tend to reduce the overall performance of... Sample PDF
Mechanisms to Restrict Exploitation and Improve Societal Performance in Multi-Agent Systems
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Chapter 12
Bastin Tony Roy Savarimuthu, Maryam Purvis, Stephen Cranefield
Norms are shared expectations of behaviours that exist in human societies. Norms help societies by increasing the predictability of individual... Sample PDF
Norm Emergence in Multi-Agent Societies
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Chapter 13
Scott A. DeLoach, Madhukar Kumar
This chapter provides an overview of the Multi-agent Systems Engineering (MaSE) methodology for analyzing and designing multi-agent systems. MaSE... Sample PDF
Multi-Agent Systems Engineering: An Overview and Case Study
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Chapter 14
František Capkovic
An alternative approach to modeling and analysis of agents’ behaviour is presented in this chapter. The agents and agent systems are understood here... Sample PDF
Modeling, Analysing, and Control of Agents Behaviour
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Chapter 15
Martin Tabakov
This chapter presents a methodology for an image enhancement process of computed tomography perfusion images by means of partition generated with... Sample PDF
Using Fuzzy Segmentation for Colour Image Enhancement of Computed Tomography Perfusion Images
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Chapter 16
Giovanni Vincenti, Goran Trajkovski
This chapter presents an innovative approach to the field of information fusion. Fuzzy mediation differentiates itself from other algorithms, as... Sample PDF
Fuzzy Mediation in Shared Control and Online Learning
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Chapter 17
Adam Jatowt, Yukiko Kawai, Katsumi Tanaka
The Web is a useful data source for knowledge extraction, as it provides diverse content virtually on any possible topic. Hence, a lot of research... Sample PDF
Utilizing Past Web for Knowledge Discovery
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Chapter 18
Dariusz Król
In this chapter, we propose a generic framework in C# to distribute and compute tasks defined by users. Unlike the more popular models such as... Sample PDF
Example-Based Framework for Propagation of Tasks in Distributed Environments
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Chapter 19
Xia Xie, Jin Huang, Song Wu, Hai Jin, Melvin Koh, Jie Song, Simon See
In this chapter, we present a survey on some of the commercial players in the Grid industry, existing research done in the area of market-based Grid... Sample PDF
Survey on the Application of Economic and Market Theory for Grid Computing
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About the Contributors