The development in the recent decade has proven that the multi-agent paradigm represents a challenging framework for solving very complex tasks of cooperation in virtual organizations. Each partner/unit engaged in a virtual organization can be considered as an autonomous unit with its own resources, knowledge and goals and represented by a corresponding software module—a software agent.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Multi-Agent Systems (MAS): A group of agents organized according to specific, precisely defined principles of community organization and operation (architecture, style of messaging, and negotiations protocols, etc.), and being supported by an adequate agent platform or infrastructure (registration, deregistration processes, communications support, etc.).
Social Knowledge Provider: An agent which is asked to deliver a piece of knowledge to the other agents and which provides it either on request, periodically or by its own decision.
Social Neighborhood of an Agent: A set of all agents that the agent is aware of, for example, it knows about their existence and properties and is able to communicate with them.
Social Knowledge: The available knowledge on the other agents organized and stored locally; this knowledge includes the information about the properties, capabilities, resources, reliability, intents, and goals of the other agents and enables to create an efficient society of agents. The self-knowledge is a special kind of the social knowledge.
Social Knowledge Requestor: An agent which needs in specific piece of knowledge and contacts the other agents—potential knowledge providers—to provide the required chunk of knowledge in the form of message sending.
Maintenance of Social Knowledge: All the processes leading to keeping the social knowledge up-dated, for example, by: (1) broadcasting of any change in social knowledge to all the agents (not very practical, rather theoretical approach); (2) periodic revisions when the social knowledge update is invoked as a regular process; (3) subscribe-advertise technique, when individual agents are able to ask for immediate reporting of any change of a selected item characterizing the state or behavior of any other agents.
Acquaintance Model: An appropriate architecture for organizing/structuring and maintenance of social knowledge.
Agent-Based Solution: A solution to a decision-making problem which considers the existence of agents as autonomous decision making units contributing to the solution of the problem.
(Intelligent) Agents: Autonomous, problem-solving computational units capable of effective behavior in dynamic and open environments.