The Role of Organization in Agent Systems

The Role of Organization in Agent Systems

Virgina Dignum (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch001
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Abstract

Agent Organization can be understood from two perspectives: organization as a process and organization as an entity. That is, organization is considered both as the process of organizing a set of individuals, or as an entity in itself, with its own requirements and objectives. In fact, agent organizations demand the integration of both perspectives and rely for a great extent on the notion of openness and heterogeneity of MAS. Practical applications of agents to organizational modeling are being widely developed, however, formal theories are needed to describe interaction and organizational structure. Furthermore, it is necessary to get a closer look at the applicability of insights and theories from organization sciences to the development of agent organizations. In this chapter, current approaches to agent organizations are discussed. Agent Organizations bring concepts and solutions from sociology and organizational theory into agent research, integrating organizational and individual perspectives, and aim at the dynamic adaptation of models to organizational and environmental changes, both of which are impacted by the notion of openness and heterogeneity. The chapter also presents a promising application of agent organizations to the area of human-agent teams.
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Abstract

Agent Organization can be understood from two perspectives: organization as a process and organization as an entity. That is, organization is considered both as the process of organizing a set of individuals, or as an entity in itself, with its own requirements and objectives. In fact, agent organizations demand the integration of both perspectives and rely for a great extent on the notion of openness and heterogeneity of MAS. Practical applications of agents to organizational modeling are being widely developed, however, formal theories are needed to describe interaction and organizational structure. Furthermore, it is necessary to get a closer look at the applicability of insights and theories from organization sciences to the development of agent organizations. In this chapter, current approaches to agent organizations are discussed. Agent Organizations bring concepts and solutions from sociology and organizational theory into agent research, integrating organizational and individual perspectives, and aim at the dynamic adaptation of models to organizational and environmental changes, both of which are impacted by the notion of openness and heterogeneity. The chapter also presents a promising application of agent organizations to the area of human-agent teams.

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Introduction

The main topic of this book is Agent Organization. Since their coming out in the 80’s, Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) have often been defined as organizations or societies of agents, i.e. as a set of agents that interact together to coordinate their behavior and often cooperate to achieve some collective goal (Ferber et al., 2003). The term agent organization has become common-place within the MAS community, but is used to mean different, often incompatible, issues. In short, one class of views takes organization as the process of organizing a set of individuals, whereas the other sees organization as an entity in itself, with its own requirements and objectives. These differences are for a great part due to the diverse world views and backgrounds of different research fields, namely Sociology and Organization Theory (OT) on the one hand, and distributed Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the other hand. From a sociologic perspective, agent organization is specified independently from its participants and relates the structure of a system to its externally observable global behavior. The artificial intelligence view on MAS is mostly directed to the study of the mental state of individual agents and their relation to the overall behavior. As it is often the case in such situations, such differences can lead to a fragile sense of understanding causing interpretation and integration problems when trying to compare, merge or analyze different models and frameworks. Without attempting to merge different views into one general whole, this book presents a comprehensive overview of the different perspectives, such that the reader will be able to better understand and judge the differences.

The stance in this chapter, and in the rest of this book is that agent organizations demand the integration of organizational and individual perspectives, the dynamic adaptation of models to organizational and environmental changes, and rely for a great extent on the notion of openness and heterogeneity of MAS. Practical applications of agents to organizational modeling are being widely developed but formal theories are needed to describe interaction and organizational structure. Furthermore, it is necessary to get a closer look at the applicability of insights and theories from organization sciences to the development of agent organizations. All these issues are becoming increasingly recognized and researched within the MAS community, as can be seen by the growing number of publications and workshops on the subject, of which COIN1 (International Workshop Series on Coordination, Organization, Institutions and Norms in MAS) is the most known example.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Organization Design: (viewed as entity) The complete specification of strategy, structure, processes, actors (people or agents), coordination and control components of the organization.

Performance: Comprises the actual output or results of an organization as measured against its intended outputs (that is, its goals and objectives). Performance depends on how well the organization fits with its environment.

Environment: The forces outside the organization that can impact it. Include marketplace, regulatory and legal situation, opportunities and threats of the context in which the organization operates.

Human-Agent Team: A network where both intelligent systems (agents) and people cooperate effectively within one group, creating synergy by reinforcing each other’s strong points and anticipate on each other’s weak points.

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.

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.

Organization Design: (viewed as process) Is the process of determining and implementing goals, roles and rules that define interaction. It involves both the partition of global organization goals into specific tasks to be executed by smaller units, and the coordination of such smaller units so that they fit together and enable efficient realization of the larger goal.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Liz Sonenberg
Preface
Virginia Dignum
Acknowledgment
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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About the Contributors