The fast-moving advances on Internet technology along with more recent developments delivered by ubiquitous computing, are making possible a surge of emerging application domains. Thus, not surprisingly applications on ambient intelligence, sensor networks, virtual organisations, and P2P, to name a few, are nowadays the matter of intense research and development. Typically, these applications are composed of a wealth of physical devices and/or software agents that act to achieve some global and/or individual goals. The achievement of such goals normally requires the coordination, and eventually the continuous adaptation, of their components? activities. This must be regarded as a tremendous challenge because of the lack of a centralised control, the partial observability of devices and (human and software) agents (and therefore of uncertainty), the openness of the system, and the high degree of dynamicity due to environmental changes (e.g. due to varying types of failures).
Hence, a fundamental question in this type of domains is how to achieve effective coordination among participants and how to sustain it over time. Notice that since these systems are situated in dynamic environments, coordination must be adaptive to continue being effective under unexpected (unplanned at design time) conditions. Because of the enormous complexity of such a task, we argue that it is fundamental to engineer these applications as systems capable of managing themselves, namely as self-* systems, where * stands for a number of properties: self-organisation, self-configuration, self-adaptation, self-diagnose, self-repair, etc. Since we can regard these systems as a kind of open systems, the multiagent system (MAS) view, where each participant is regarded as an autonomous entity, appears as suitable for them. Thus, we propose to engineer self-* systems as multiagent systems with self-* capabilities. In order to succeed in this endeavour, we focus on the following topics:
- exploiting bio-inspired mechanisms for self-organising systems
- engineering self-organising and self-adaptive systems
- robust emergence of cooperation, converntions and social norms