A Logic for Agent Organizations

A Logic for Agent Organizations

Virgina Dignum (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and Frank Dignum (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch009
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Organization concepts and models are increasingly being adopted for the design and specification of multi-agent systems. Agent organizations can be seen as mechanisms of social order, created to achieve common goals for more or less autonomous agents. In order to develop a theory on the relationship between organizational structures, organizational actions, and actions of agents performing roles in the organization, we need a theoretical framework to describe and reason about organizations. The formal model presented in this chapter is sufficiently generic to enable the comparison of different existing organizational approaches to Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), while having enough descriptive power to describe realistic organizations.
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Organizing is important in distributed computational systems, just as it is important in human systems. Researchers, within both the computer science and the organization theory fields, agree that many concepts and ideas can be shared between the two disciplines to better understand human organizations and to design more efficient and flexible distributed systems (So and Durfee; 1998; Cohen, 1986; Fox, 1981). However, due to its nature, organizational theory research tends to be not very formal from a computational perspective, which makes it difficult when moving from its use as a concept or paradigm towards using social and organizational concepts for the formalization of social concepts in Multi-Agent Systems (MAS).

Given such different views, the difficulty of comparing, analyzing and choosing a given approach becomes clear. Even if our aim is not to solve this problem, in this chapter we present initial steps towards the specification of a formal model for the study of agent organizations. The motivations for this model are twofold. On the one hand, the need for a formal representation of organizations, with their environment, objectives and agents in a way that enables to analyze their partial contributions to the performance of the organization in a changing environment. On the other hand, such a model must be realistic enough to incorporate the more ‘pragmatic’ considerations faced by real organizations. Most existing formal models lack this realism, e.g. either by ignoring temporal issues, or by taking a very restrictive view on the controllability of agents, or by assuming complete control and knowledge within the system (cf. Wooldridge, van der Hoek, 2005; Santos et al, 1997). Formal models for organizations that are able to deal with realistic situations, must thus meet at least the following requirements (Dignum, Tick, 2007):

  • 1.

    represent notions of ability and activity of agents, without requiring knowledge about the specific actions available to a specific agent

  • 2.

    accept limitedness of agent capability

  • 3.

    represent the ability and activity of a group of agents

  • 4.

    deal with temporal issues, in special the fact that activity takes time

  • 5.

    represent the concept of responsibility for the achievement of a given state of affairs

  • 6.

    represent organizational (global) goals and its link to agents’ activity, by relating activity and organizational structure

All of the above requirements are related to the more structural properties of an organization and will be met with the theory developed in this chapter. Furthermore, the following requirements are needed to enable complete representation and analysis of organization:

  • 7.

    deal with resource limitedness and the dependency of activity on resources (e.g. costs)

  • 8.

    represent organizational dynamics (evolution of organization over time, changes on agent population)

  • 9.

    represent organizations in terms of organizational roles or positions

  • 10.

    relate roles and agents (role enacting agents)

  • 11.

    deal with normative issues (representation of boundaries for action and the violation thereof)

Key Terms in this Chapter

(Agent or Group) Responsibility: Describes the fact that an agent or group of agents is in charge of realizing a certain state of affairs, and can therefore be made accountable for it.

Organizational Structure: Represents the relations between entities of an agent organization that are taken to be invariant through time. The main constructs found in it are roles, groups, and relationships between them.

(Agent or Group) Capability: Describes the intrinsic skill of an agent or group of agents to realize a certain state of affairs.

(Agent or Group) Ability: Refers to the potential to realize a certain capability, that is, the extrinsic conditions for the realization of a certain state of affairs.

Temporal Logic: System of rules and symbolism for representing, and reasoning about, propositions qualified in terms of time. It is often used to state requirements of hardware or software systems.

(Agent or Group) Stit: Meaning ‘sees to it that’ is the successful action of an agent or group of agents. A temporal stance on stit indicated that the result of activity is only valid in successor worlds.

Agent Organization: Comparable to human organizations, agent organizations are characterized by global goals and formalized social structures representing the stakeholder desired results. Can be seen as the structural setting in which agent interactions occur.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Liz Sonenberg
Virginia Dignum
Virginia Dignum
Chapter 1
Virgina Dignum
Agent Organization can be understood from two perspectives: organization as a process and organization as an entity. That is, organization is... Sample PDF
The Role of Organization in Agent Systems
Chapter 2
Luciano R. Coutinho, Jaime S. Sichman, Olivier Boissier
In this chapter, we discuss the concepts of agent organization, organizational model, and review some existing organizational models. Before the... Sample PDF
Modelling Dimensions for Agent Organizations
Chapter 3
Jacques Ferber, Tiberiu Stratulat, John Tranier
In this chapter, we stress the importance of thinking a MAS in all its aspects (agents, environment, interactions, organizations, and institutions)... Sample PDF
Towards an Integral Approach of Organizations in Multi-Agent Systems
Chapter 4
Scott A. DeLoach
This chapter introduces a suite of technologies for building complex, adaptive systems. It is based in the multi-agent systems paradigm and uses the... Sample PDF
OMACS: A Framework for Adaptive, Complex Systems
Chapter 5
Christopher Cheong, Michael Winikoff
Although intelligent agents individually exhibit a number of characteristics, including social ability, flexibility, and robustness, which make them... Sample PDF
Hermes: Designing Flexible and Robust Agent Interactions
Chapter 6
Viara Popova, Alexei Sharpanskykh
This chapter introduces a formal framework for modeling and analysis of organizations. It allows representing and reasoning about all important... Sample PDF
A Formal Framework for Organization Modeling and Analysis
Chapter 7
Maksim Tsvetovat
Agent-based approaches provide an invaluable tool for building decentralized, distributed architectures and tying together sets of disparate... Sample PDF
Describing Agent Societies: A Declarative Semantics
Chapter 8
Davide Grossi, Frank Dignum
In this chapter we investigate how organizations can be represented as graphs endowed with formal semantics. We distinguish different dimensions of... Sample PDF
Structural Aspects of Organizations
Chapter 9
Virgina Dignum, Frank Dignum
Organization concepts and models are increasingly being adopted for the design and specification of multi-agent systems. Agent organizations can be... Sample PDF
A Logic for Agent Organizations
Chapter 10
Cristiano Castelfranchi
This chapter presents organizations as a macro-micro notion and device; they presuppose autonomous proactive entities (agents) playing the... Sample PDF
Grounding Organizations in the Minds of the Agents
Chapter 11
Paolo Torroni, Pinar Yolum, Munindar P. Singh, Marco Alberti, Federico Chesani, Marco Gavanelli, Evelina Lamma, Paola Mello
Organizational models often rely on two assumptions: openness and heterogeneity. This is, for instance, the case with organizations consisting of... Sample PDF
Modelling Interactions via Commitments and Expectations
Chapter 12
Gita Sukthankar, Katia Sycara, Joseph A. Giampapa, Christopher Burnett
This chapter discusses the problem of agent aiding of ad-hoc, decentralized human teams so as to improve team performance on time-stressed group... Sample PDF
Communications for Agent-Based Human Team Support
Chapter 13
Bob van der Vecht, Frank Dignum, John-Jules Ch. Meyer
This chapter discusses how autonomous agents can adopt organizational rules into their reasoning process. Agents in an organization need to... Sample PDF
Autonomous Agents Adopting Organizational Rules
Chapter 14
Nicoletta Fornara, Marco Colombetti
The specification of open interaction systems is widely recognized to be a crucial issue, which involves the problem of finding a standard way of... Sample PDF
Specifying Artificial Institutions in the Event Calculus
Chapter 15
Francesco Viganò, Marco Colombetti
Institutions have been proposed to explicitly represent norms in open multi-agent systems, where agents may not follow them and which therefore... Sample PDF
Verifying Organizations Regulated by Institutions
Chapter 16
Mehdi Dastani, Nick A.M. Tinnemeier, John-Jules Ch. Meyer
Multi-agent systems are viewed as consisting of individual agents whose behaviors are regulated by an organizational artifact. This chapter presents... Sample PDF
A Programming Language for Normative Multi-Agent Systems
Chapter 17
Antônio Carlos da Rocha Costa, Graçaliz Pereira Dimuro
This chapter presents the Population-Organization model, a formal tool for studying the organization of open multi-agent systems and its functional... Sample PDF
A Minimal Dynamical MAS Organization Model
Chapter 18
Shaheen Fatima, Michael Wooldridge
This chapter presents an adaptive organizational policy for multi-agent systems called TRACE. TRACE allows a collection of multi-agent organizations... Sample PDF
A Framework for Dynamic Agent Organizations
Chapter 19
Alexander Artikis, Dimosthenis Kaponis, Jeremy Pitt
We have been developing a framework for executable specification of norm-governed multi-agent systems. In this framework, specification is a... Sample PDF
Dynamic Specifications for Norm-Governed Systems
Chapter 20
Marco Lamieri, Diana Mangalagiu
In this chapter we present a model of organization aimed to understand the effect of formal and informal structures on the organization’s... Sample PDF
Interactions Between Formal and Informal Organizational Networks
Chapter 21
Steven Okamoto, Katia Sycara, Paul Scerri
Intelligent software personal assistants are an active research area with the potential to revolutionize the way that human organizations operate... Sample PDF
Personal Assistants for Human Organizations
Chapter 22
Sachin Kamboj, Keith S. Decker
This chapter presents an approach to organizational-self design (OSD), a method of designing organizations at run-time in which the agents are... Sample PDF
Organizational Self-Design in Worth-Oriented Domains
Chapter 23
Olivier Bonnet-Torrès, Catherine Tessier
This chapter focuses on a Petri Net-based model for team organization and monitoring. The applications considered are missions performed by several... Sample PDF
A Formal Petri Net Based Model for Team Monitoring
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