Cooperation Protocol Design Method for Repository-Based Multi-Agent Applications

Cooperation Protocol Design Method for Repository-Based Multi-Agent Applications

Wenpeng Wei (Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan), Hideyuki Takahashi (Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan & Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan), Takahiro Uchiya (Nagoya Institute of Technology, Nagoya, Japan) and Tetsuo Kinoshita (Graduate School of Information Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan & Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/ijssci.2013040101
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This paper proposes a cooperation protocol design method for repository-based multi-agent systems. The proposal aims to improve the efficiency of multi-agent system development by introducing reusable protocol templates. To achieve the decoupling of protocol templates and application domain processes, original protocol template representations are proposed. Moreover, a graphical design tool with automatic implementation functions of proposed protocol templates is developed to reduce the development cost of multi-agent systems. To validate the functionality and feasibility of the proposal, two disparate multi-agent based applications are developed using the proposed design method. The comparison with the reference implementation shows that applying proposal in practical application development reduces approximately 50% coding work.
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2.1. Protocol Design for Multi-Agent Systems

Since communication is very important for software agent, many research focus on the protocol design for multi-agent system. Mazouzi (2002] proposes a generic approach for the protocol engineering in the case of complex interactions and open protocols. [Pena, 2003] introduces a top down approach for multi-agent system protocol descriptions. Winikoff (2004] proposes a methodology covering protocol design for multi-agent system development. Al-Hashel (2007] and Dam (2004] provide comparisons of agent-oriented software development methods taking protocol design as an important aspect. We notice that few of the researches mention the reusability of protocols for multi-agent systems. Also none of those works provides functions or mechanisms to support protocol implementation for practical usages.

2.2. Repository-Based Agent Framework

The repository-based agent framework (DASH) is proposed in Hara (2002] to supports the design and implementation of flexible distributed systems. The repository is one of unique mechanisms of DASH for supporting software reuse as shown in Figure 1. Agent developers can register their agents into the repository for future reuse. Furthermore, an interactive design environment is proposed in Uchiya (2007) and Uchiya (2009] to support the multi-agent system development using DASH. This research is based on the DASH framework to use the repository mechanism to support protocol reuse for multi-agent systems. The details of the proposal are explained in next section.

Figure 1.

The repository-based agent framework


3. Proposal

To provide reusable protocols for repository-based multi-agent systems, we propose DASH Protocol Template. A DASH Protocol Template illustrates a communication pattern that agents can adopt in a multi-agent system. Disparate multi-agent systems may need the same communication pattern in practical applications. Actually, some typical protocols such as Contract Net Protocol(CNP) [Smith, 1980] are usually adopted in different multi-agent applications. It is obvious that reusing those common protocols will make the development of multi-agent system more effective. In this section, the details of DASH Protocol Template are explained.

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