Specifying Artificial Institutions in the Event Calculus

Specifying Artificial Institutions in the Event Calculus

Nicoletta Fornara (Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland) and Marco Colombetti (Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland and Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch014
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Abstract

The specification of open interaction systems is widely recognized to be a crucial issue, which involves the problem of finding a standard way of specifying: a communication language for the interacting agents, the entities that constitute the context of the interaction, and rules that regulate interactions. An approach to solve these problems consists in modelling open interaction systems as a set of artificial institutions. In this chapter we address this issue by formally defining, in the Event Calculus, a repertoire of abstract concepts (like commitment, institutional power, role, and norm) that can be used to specify every artificial institution. We then show how, starting from the formal definition of these concepts and of application-dependent concepts, it is possible to obtain a formal specification of a system. By using a suitable tool, it is then possible to simulate and monitor the system’s evolution through automatic deduction.
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Introduction

The specification of open interaction systems, which can be dynamically entered and left by heterogeneous, autonomous, and self-interested agents, is widely recognized to be a crucial issue in the development of distributed applications on the Internet. The interacting agents may be heterogeneous because they may be developed by different designers; as a consequence, no assumptions can be made on their internal architecture and it is impossible to access their internal states. Agents may be self-interested because they act on behalf of different human counterparts that, in general, do not share a common goal. Finally, agents are autonomous because they are not centrally controlled, but act on the basis of private strategies.

The specification of such systems involves two main problems: the first is the definition of a standard way of specifying a communication language for the interacting agents and of the context of the interaction; the second, which derives from the assumption of the agents autonomy, is finding a way to regulate interactions so that agents may have reliable expectations on the future development of the system. A possible approach to solve those problems consists in modelling the interaction systems as a set of artificial institutions. By this term we mean the digital counterpart or extension of a human institution, like for example the institution of language, the institution of property, or the institution of auctions.

In our view the definition of a specific artificial institution (Fornara et al., 2008) consists of: (i) a component, called meta-model, which includes the definition of basic entities common to the specification of every institution, like the concepts of commitment, institutional power, role, and norm, and the actions necessary for exchanging messages; (ii) a component specific to the institution in question, which includes the specification of the powers and norms that apply to the agents playing roles in the institution, and the definition of the concepts pertaining to the domain of the interaction (for example the actions of paying or delivering a product, bidding in an auction, etc.). The aim of this chapter is to give a formal definition of the domain-independent component and to illustrate the domain-dependent component through a meaningful example.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Agent Communication Language: A language to be used by software agents for their communicative exchanges. Most proposals are inspired by Speech Act Theory; the best known are KQML (Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language) and FIPA-ACL.

Open Interaction System: A software system that can be dynamically entered and left by heterogeneous, autonomous, and self-interested agents.

Role: A conceptual device that allows one to abstract from individual agents when they interact within an institutional framework. For example, we may have the roles of auctioneer and participant in an auction, boss or employee in a company, debtor and creditor of a commitment, etc. Coherently with these examples, a role may be viewed as a label that can be used in place of the identifier of a specific agent in the design of an institution. Roles connect agents to institutional entities like: a specific institutional agent or organization (e.g., an auction house or a university), an institutional activity (e.g., a run of an auction), or an institutional relationship (e.g., a commitment or a state of ownership).

Norm: A formal specification of a deontic relation that aims at regulating the interactions among software agents and creating expectations on the future development of the system.

Social Commitment: A commitment is a construct that binds a debtor with respect to a creditor to the performance of an action or to the fact that a state of affair holds. Commitment are used in this chapter to express the semantics of a library of communicative acts, to represent active norms, and to monitor the fulfillment or violation of obligations and prohibitions of the various agents at run-time.

Institutional Power: The status that enables certain agent, particularly when act in specific roles, to create or modify institutional facts (i.e., facts that exist hold to the collective agreement of the interacting agents or of their designers).

Artificial Institution: The digital counterpart or extension of a human institution, like for example the institution of language, or the institution of auctions. The definition of a specific artificial institution consists of the definition of basic entities common to the specification of every institution, like the concepts of commitment, institutional power, role, and norm, and of a component specific to the institution in question, which includes the specification of the powers and norms that apply to the agents playing roles in the institution, and the definition of the concepts pertaining to the domain of the interaction.

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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