Juan A. Rodríguez-Aguilar
Institut d'Investigació en Intel.ligència Artificial
Campus de la Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona
08193 Bellaterra Spain
FM has been designed to be as user-friendly as possible. Thus, the FM GUIs allow a simple, thorough interaction between both the tournament designer and users with FM. The starting point is the FM main menu shown on the left in Table 1. As a first step, the tournament designer must configure the test-bed with the aid of the configuration panel on the right in Table 1) which becomes displayed when selectin the Configuration option. It permits the specification of where (machine and port) the auction house is to be running, whether the tournament session is expected to be monitored and whether the tournament data are to be stored in a database and, if so, where (machine and port) that database will be running.
Table 1: (i)FM Main Menu; (ii) Tournament Configuration Panel
Once FM has been appropriately configured, the tournament designer must engage in the definition of trading scenarios. For this purpose, he must select the Parameter Setting option of the FM main menu to start the Tournament Parameter Setting panel shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Tournament Parameter Setting
There the tournament designer is allowed to define the auction parameters, the bidding protocol parameters, the information revelation level, the tournament mode, and the participants.
In order to define participants for the trading scenario the tournament designer can opt for either adding (both human and pre-built software) agents or generating agents by means of the built-in Agent Builder, which contains agent templates with simple, parametrizable auction strategies. Table 2 displays the GUIs corresponding to both options accessible from the Buyers area lying down on the Tournament Parameter Setting panel.
Table 2: GUIs for the addition and construction of buyers.
Notice that when adding new agents it is particularly important to specify where they are expected to be running and whether they must be automatically started by FM. In this way, the tournament designer can both distribute the agents involved int the tournament for scalability purposes, and also specify their automatic starting. In addition to this, FM is multi-user: it allows multiple users to spawn their agents in their own machines in order for these to participate in remote tournaments.
After fully defining a tournament scenario, the tournament is ready to go. So the tournament designer starts running a trading scenario by simply pressing the Go option of the FM main menu. Figure 2 shows the tournament panel that is expected to be displayed.
Figure 2: Tournament Panel
Let us consider that the tournament involves human participants. Figure 3 displays you the type of GUI that they would be using to interact with the auction house during the tournament for moving among scenes and for acting within each scene (submitting bids, updating his credit, etc.).
Figure 3: Human Buyer Applet.
Monitoring must be regarded as a fundamental issue when deploying practical
electronic markets in order to track the activities of trading agents.
In FM auctions can be monitored step-by-step thanks to the FM Monitoring Agent\
which keeps track of every single event taking place during a tournament in order to obtain a visual, global representation of the agents' flow from scene to scene within the market as well as the communication flow (what the agents utter and when). To start off the FM Monitoring Agent, the tournament designer can
select the Monitoring
option of the FM main menu. The top figure in Table 3 displays the video-like panel that will be showed to allow to
control the FM
mt in a fairly easy way.
All we have to do in order to start playing the ongoing tournament session is to press play and watch. The central figure in Table 3 shows the graphical representation of the so-called virtual FM. This (market-centered) representation method appears to be convenient for the tournament designer to visualize all the activities occurring distributedly and concurrently in FM in a global manner.
Table 3: Monitoring Agent Control Panel and Virtual FM
Apart from making this global view of FM available, the Monitoring Agent is also capable of displaying individualized (agent-centered) information referred to both the illocutions sent and received by each agent. In order to obtain this local information, we simply click on the icon representing the agent to be observed within the virtual FM, and next a window similar to that on the left in Table 4 will be ideally showed. Clicking again on the agent's icon lets us browse all the messages being sent and received by the selected agent as shown by the figure on the right in Table 4.
Table 4: Agent Card and Agent Illocutions
FM has been also endowed with a database that stores valuable information about the market sessions to be subsequently used by trading agents to carry out market analysis. Figure 4 shows some of the events in the FM table that keeps the events taking place during each bidding round.
Figure 4: An FM Database Table
Finally Table 5 contains a visual representation of the evolution of several competitors along a tournament. In this way the tournament designer can conveniently keep track of the agents' performance during the tournament.
Figure 5: Example of Tournament Evolution