Multiagent systems and electronic institutions

Slides (organised in weeks for intensive courses)


This is an old course given with Juan Antonio Rodríguez-Aguilar. This subject introduces students to the concept of agent organisations and electronic institutions. Virtual Institutions are software systems composed of autonomous agents, that interact according to predefined conventions on language and protocol and that guarantee that certain norms of behaviour are enforced. This view permits agents to behave autonomously and take their decisions freely up to the limits imposed by the set of norms of the institution. An important consequence of embedding agents in a virtual institution is that the predefined conventions on language and protocol greatly simplify the design of the agents. A Virtual Institution is in a sense a natural extension of the social concept of institutions as regulatory systems that shape human interactions. Social concepts like roles, norms, and institutions are gaining momentum in software design as a way to cope with the increasing complexity of software systems. Students will gain knowledge on the basic notions of agent computing and multiagent systems design and on the social and organisation-based models used to build such systems. At the end of the subject students will be capable of specifying multiagent systems as electronic institutions and of programming simple agents to populate them. This subject introduces students to fundamental concepts in multiagent systems design. The most relevant approaches to autonomous agent organisation will be reviewed and students will receive an state-of-the-art view of one of the currently most important developments in programming techniques. Given the pervasive nature of agent computing in software engineering and IT, this subject will give students a modern and competitive perspective on software design.


1) Introduction to Autonomous Agent and MAS concepts. Concept of agent, Game theory, Co-ordination mechanisms, agentprogramming languages, agent architectures.
2) Basic organisational concepts. Roles, protocols, norms.
3) Organisational paradigm. Holonic systems, Coalitions, Teams, Societies, Federations, Markets
4) Electronic Institutions. Basic concepts, tools, examples.
5) Laboratory practical work. Study of ISLANDER, AMELI and related electronic institution building tools. Guided analysis of an electronic institution design. Team work on the design of an electronic institution from scratch. Design of simple agents.


Agents and Electronic Institutions

J.L. Arcos, M. Esteva, P. Noriega, J. A. Rodriguez-Aguilar, C. Sierra. Engineering open environments with electronic institutions. Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence 18): 191-204, 2005.

C. Brooks and E. Durfee. Congregation Formation in multiagents system. Journal of Autonomous agents and Multiagent Systems, 7(1-2):145-170, 2003.

M. Esteva. Electronic institutions: from specification to development. IIIA Ph.D. Monography, vol. 19. 2003.

B. Horling and V. Lesser. A survey of Multi-Agent organizational Paradigms. In The Knowledge Engineering Review, Vol. 00:0,1-24, CUP. 2004

J.A. Rodriguez-Aguilar. On the design and construction of agent mediated electronic institutions, IIIA Ph.D. Monography, vol. 14. 2001.

C. Sierra. Agent-Mediated Electronic Commerce. In Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, 9, 285-301, 2004.

K. S. Larson and T. W. Sandholm. Anytime coalition structure generation: an average case study. Journal of Experimental & Theoretical AI, 11:1-20, 2000.

R. Nair, M. Tambe, and S. Marsella. Role allocation and reallocation in multiagent teams: Towards a practical analysis. In Proceedings of Second International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS-03), 2003.

T. Sandholm, K. S. Larson, M. Andersson, O. Shehory, F. Tohme. Coalition structure generation with worst case guarantees. In Artificial Intelligence, 111 (1-2) : 209-238, 1999.

Gerhard Weiss (Editor). Multiagent Systems : A Modern Approach to Distributed Artificial Intelligence. MIT Press; ISBN: 0262731312; 1st edition (2000)

Michael Wooldridge. Introduction to MultiAgent Systems. John Wiley & Sons; 1st edition ISBN: 047149691X (June 12, 2002).

General books on AI:

Stuart J. Russell, Peter Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Prentice Hall; ISBN: 0137903952; 2nd edition (2002)

Partick Winston. Artificial Intelligence (3rd Edition). Addison-Wesley; ISBN: 0201533774; 3rd edition (1992)