Towards an Integral Approach of Organizations in Multi-Agent Systems

Towards an Integral Approach of Organizations in Multi-Agent Systems

Jacques Ferber (LIRMM – University of Montpellier II, France), Tiberiu Stratulat (LIRMM – University of Montpellier II, France) and John Tranier (LIRMM – University of Montpellier II, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-256-5.ch003
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In this chapter, we stress the importance of thinking a MAS in all its aspects (agents, environment, interactions, organizations, and institutions), using a more integral vision. We show that a genuine organizational approach has to take into account both the environment and the institutional part of MAS societies. Then, we propose the MASQ (Multi-Agent System based on Quadrants) meta-model, which constitutes an abstraction of the various aspects of an OCMAS (Organization Centered Multi-Agent Systems), extending AGR (Agent/Group/Role). MASQ is based on a four-quadrant framework, where the analysis and design of a system is performed along two axes: an interior/exterior dimension and an individual/collective dimension. We give a conceptual definition of this approach and we will show that it is possible to apply it to practical models.
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1. Introduction

Multi-agent systems (MAS) are often considered as collections of agents that interact together to coordinate their behavior to achieve some individual or collective goal. The research in MAS domain focuses therefore on the study of the agent-based interaction, which roughly could be divided in agent-centered interaction and mediated interaction. Agent-centered interaction is the most known and well understood as the works of FIPA (2005), the standardizing body of the MAS domain, reflect it. The interaction is considered from the perspective of a single agent communicating with another agent in isolation. The research in mediated interaction tries to complement this perspective and concentrates rather on distributed and social aspects, when many agents are in interaction. Mediated interaction is based on the idea of structuring the interaction by adding a sort of middleware responsible to manage the complexity of the interactions between many agents1. Depending on the kind of interaction, we can further have two types of mediated interaction: environment-based interaction and organization-centered MAS (OCMAS) interaction.

In the case of environment-based interaction research has concentrated on the physical distributed aspects of interaction. The environment is considered as a first-class abstraction at the same level as the agents, and has its own state and laws of change (Weyns, Omicini & Odell, 2007). The main reason of using an environment as a medium of interaction is to control (independently of the agents) the effects of external events or parallel actions produced simultaneously by two or more agents (Ferber & Müller, 1996). The works on environment-based interaction concentrate mainly on how to represent objects in an environment, how to specify the actions of agents and the various laws of change, and how to execute the overall system dynamics. The other problems in environment–based interaction are similar then to those of distributed systems: openness, security, coherence, load-balancing, etc.

In the case of OCMAS, an emphasis has been put on the social aspects of interaction and inspiration comes from human forms of organization. It becomes more and more accepted that the interaction can be specified and structured in terms of organizations, roles, groups and norms (Dignum, 2004; Ferber & Gutknecht, 1998; Ferber, Gutknecht & Michel, 2004). In this view, an organization is seen as a collection of agents that can be considered together in groups, playing roles or regulated by organizational rules. For instance, in AGR model (Ferber & Gutknecht, 1998) the agents can interact only inside a group in which they play roles. An agent can play one or many roles and enter into one or many groups. A role is a general concept to which a MAS architect can associate various semantics (i.e. rights, obligations, norms, powers, patterns of behaviour, etc.). Similarly, in the family of MOISE models (Hübner, Sichman & Boissier, 2007) an organization is considered coherently under its functional, structural and deontic dimensions (for all these aspects, see also Chapter II, Modelling Dimensions for Multi-Agent Systems Organizations, by Coutinho et al.).

Although the initial studies of organizational interaction have not suggested explicitly the use of an organizational environment, the specification of an organization is made however independently of the participating agents and therefore at the execution time it is necessary to introduce a way to handle it. For instance, an organization could be designed architecturally as an organizational layer to keep trace of the events and information that are organizationally important. In MadKit (2004) the core layer (kernel) which implements the organizational environment has as basic functionalities to let agents join groups, associate roles to agents and let only members to the same group to interact. Another way to represent an organization is to reify it at the same level with other agents within a socially constructed agent (Boella & Van der Torre, 2004). The concept of organization becomes then a first class abstraction with a representation on its own (i.e. an organization can have its own goals and beliefs).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Organization Centered Multi-Agent Systems (OCMAS): A set of principles to design multi-agent systems based on organizations. In OCMAS, organizations neither describe how tasks are carried out, nor impose any constraints on the cognitive aspects of agents.

Mind: The reasoning, decision-making and cognitive part of an agent. Minds are associated to bodies in order to act in brute spaces.

Multi-Agent Systems based on Quadrants MASQ): An approach in which multi-agent systems are seen from four perspectives: the subjective and personal perspective of minds, the objective and personal perspective of behaviors, the objective and collective perspective of environments and their structuring in terms of objective organizations, the subjective and collective perspective of culture.

Influence-Reaction: A model of action which allows for concurrent activities.

Brute Spaces: The environmental domains in which action takes place and where objects (and bodies) are objectively situated.

Body: The interface between a mind and a brute space. Social bodies, i.e. bodies which are situated in organizational spaces, are called ‘roles’.

Culture: In MAS, we use the term “culture” to denote the subjective elements that are shared by a group of minds, i.e. collective interpretations, social norms, ontologies, common or shared knowledge, etc.

Agent-Group-Role-Environment (AGRE): Adds the concept of environment to AGR.

Agent-Group-Role (AGR): A generic model of multi-agent organizations which does not impose any constraints on the architecture of agents. AGR conforms to the OCMAS principles.

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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