Towards a Hybrid MAS Organizational Model: Combining the ACMAS and OCMAS Viewpoints

Towards a Hybrid MAS Organizational Model: Combining the ACMAS and OCMAS Viewpoints

Hosny A. Abbas (Faculty of Engineering, Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt) and Samir Shaheen (Cairo University, Giza, Egypt)
DOI: 10.4018/IJOCI.2017100102
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Abstract

The organizational aspects are currently getting a great attention within the multi-agent systems (MAS) community. The motivation towards this trend is finding a way to handle the increasing complexity and distribution of modern agent-based applications using higher order abstractions such as agent organizations. It is a transition from concerning the micro level (individual agents) to concerning the macro level (the whole system) to handle complexity. A large number of MAS organizational models can be found in MAS literature. Some of them adopt the ACMAS (Agent-Centered MAS) viewpoint and others adopt the OCMAS (Organizational-Centered MAS) viewpoint. Each of the ACMAS and OCMAS viewpoints has its advantages and disadvantages; therefore, combining them into a hybrid model is expected to give us the chance to take benefit of their advantages and avoid their disadvantages. This chapter presents our recent work towards the conceptual design of a hybrid MAS organizational model that combines both of the ACMAS and OCMAS viewpoints.
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Introduction

Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) are currently widely adopted for modeling, designing, and developing a diversity of real-world application domains. The design concepts behind agents are vital in the globalization context as globalization refers to an inherently distributed world both from geographical and information processing perspectives. What distinguishes the agent-based approach from traditional approaches is its unique ability to handle simultaneously many challenges of future and even present real-world applications especially those applications which are highly distributed and their working environments are highly dynamic and uncertain. MAS are considered as a promising engineering (i.e., architectural) style for developing adaptive software systems able to handle the continuous increase in their complexity as a result of their open, heterogeneous, and continuous evolution nature. They model the system as distributed autonomous agents cooperate together to achieve system goals. There are two viewpoints of MAS engineering, the first one is the agent-centered MAS (ACMAS) in which the focus is given to individual agents. With this viewpoint, the designer concerns the local behaviors of agents and also their interactions without concerning the global structure of the system. The global required function of the system is supposed to emerge as a result of the lower level individual agent interactions in a bottom-up way. The key problems of the ACMAS viewpoint are mainly related to the unpredictability and uncertainty of agents’ behaviors and interactions. Because the whole is more than the sum of its parts (Upton et al., 2014), this approach can lead to undesirable emergent behaviors that may impact system performance, as a result, this approach might be not suitable to design and engineer complex multi-agent systems.

The second viewpoint of MAS engineering is what is called organization-centered MAS (OCMAS) in which the structure of the system is given a bigger attention through the explicit abstraction of agent organization. With that approach, the designer designs the entire organization and coordination patterns on the one hand, and the agents’ local behaviors on the other hand. It is considered as a top-down approach because the organization abstraction imposes some rules or norms used by agents to coordinate their local behaviors and interactions with other agents.

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