Francisco J. Martin, Enric Plaza and Juan A.
IIIA - Artificial Intelligence Research Institute
CSIC - Spanish Council for Scientific Research
Campus UAB, 08193 Bellaterra,Barcelona, Spain
Vox: +34-93-5809570, Fax: +34-93-5809661
In this work we introduce an infrastructure for easing the construction of agent-based systems. We argue that such infrastructure constitutes a convenient solution for releasing agent developers from the cumbersome interaction issues inherent to any agent-based system, and therefore for helping them concentrate on the domain-dependent agents' logics issues (from the agents' inner behavior to the agents' social behavior). Our proposal relies upon two fundamental elements: conversation protocols, coordination patterns that impose a set of rules on the communicative acts uttered by the agents participating in a conversation (what can be said, to whom, and when), and interagents, autonomous software agents that mediate the interaction between each agent and the agent society wherein this is situated. Interagents employ conversation protocols for mediating conversations among agents. Thus, the management of conversation protocols is presented as the raison d'être of interagents. We also introduce JIM, our java-based implementation of a general-purpose interagent. On the one hand, we show how it handles conversation protocols in practice, and on the other hand, how it has been endowed with the capability of dealing with agent interaction at different levels by means of the SHIP protocol. Finally, we illustrate the use of interagents by explaining the several roles that they play in FM, an agent-mediated electronic auction market.
Keywords: Agent-Based Systems, Interagents, Conversation Protocols, Interoperability