General Multi-Agent Systems
Lecture Course in Sept. 2000,
Dept. of CS
Universidad Nacional del Sur



After a general introduction to Multi-Agent Systems (appropriate chapters in Russell/Norvig, Artificial Intelligence, Prentice Hall, 1995) in the first lecture, we consider in Chapters 2--5 general techniques of

Although this series of lectures is selfcontained, there is a natural continuation where we consider a particular Multi-Agent System: We refer to Invited Lecture.

Here are two interesting links:

  • General Agent Systems: Agentlink Net

    Here is a detailed plan of the various chapters:

    Chapter 1:Introduction and Terminology (1 Lecture)
    We illustrate the difference between Multi-Agent Systems and classical distributed AI, give a first definition and introduce in the terminology.
    1.1 General: Distributed AI I vs. Multi-Agentsystems.
    1.2 Intelligent Agents: Intelligent interactive Agents, Definition of an Agent, Properties of the environment, reactive/proactive/social, Agent vs. Object-Orientation, PAGE-Description.
    1.3 Mathematical Definitions: Abstract View of an agent: mathematical functions action: S* --> A, env: SxA --> Pot(S), hist, see: S --> P, next: IxP --> I.

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    Chapter 2:Fundamental Architectures: (1 Lecture)
    We illustrate three main agent architectures.
    2.1 Reactive Agents: Formal Model, Behaviour, Inhibition Relation, Complexity, Pro/Contra, Example: Polar Lander, Cooperative Programming,
    2.2 BDI-Agents: Sture vs Unsichere Agenten (Factor gamma), BDI-Structure
    2.3 Layered Architectures: Fig. 2.1 [Fig. 1.6 on p. 62], Touring Machine Fig. 2.2 [Fig. 1.7 on p. 63], Autonomous Vehicle, Planning/Modelling/Control Layers, Interrap: Fig. 2.3 [Fig. 1.8 on p. 65]

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    Chapter 3:Logic Based Architectures: (1 Lecture)
    We illustrate logic based architectures.
    Symbolic AI, Agent as Theorem Prover, Database as internal state,
    3.1 Wumpus World in Sentential Logic
    3.2 The Situation Calculus: Situation-calculus, result-terms, fluents, memory-predicate At(,,,),
    3.3 Problems Qualification-Problem, nonmonotonic logics, Frame-Problem,
    3.4 A Solution to the Frame Problem? Successor-State Axioms: Automatic Generation and Reduction of their number: #A + #F instead of #A x #F.

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    Chapter 4:Distributed Decision Making (2 Lectures)
    We consider the most important techniques for decision making: Voting, auctions and Bargaining.
    4.1 Evaluation Criteria: Social welfare, Pareto Efficiency, Individuel Rational, Stability: Nash Equilibrium.
    4.2 Voting: Arrows Theorem, Ways out, Binary Protocol: Fig. 4.1 [Fig 5.1 on p. 206], Borda Protocol: Fig. 4.2 [Table 5.2 on p. 206].
    4.3 Auctions: (4 Typs (first price open cry--second price sealed bid), private/common/correlated value, Dominant Strategies, Profit for the Auktioneer, Non optimal allocations, Lying and Counterspeculation at Vickrey, Lookahead).
    4.4 Bargaining: axiomatic/strategic, Discountfactor: Table 4.1 [Table 5.4 on p. 222], Table 4.2 [Table 5.5 on p. 222], bargaining costs.

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    Chapter 5:Contract Nets and Coalition Formation (1 Lecture)
    Wir introduce two of the most important principles developed for Agent systems: Contract Nets (how to determine which contracts should be taken) and Coalition Formation (how to determine if and with whom agents should work together).
    5.1 Contract-Nets: Tasc-Allocations Model, IR-Contract, Decision making: MC_add, MC_remove, Gradient-Descent, Maximizing social welfare, anytime Algorithm. 4 Types of Nets: O, C, S, M. Problem with local Maxima. OCSM-Contracts: Gradient-Descent without Backtracking.
    5.2 Coalition Formation: Nash vs Strong Nash,
    5.2.1. Coalition Formation for CFG's: Def. CFG, Super additive Games, Search through the CS-Graph: Fig. 5.1 [Fig. 5.3 on p. 244] , Approximations, Last two Layers: CS-Search 1: Fig. 5.2 [Fig. 5.4 on p. 246] Improving the bound by breadth-first search from the top,
    5.2.2. Paralellization of the search:,
    5.2.3. Payoff Division: 3 Axioms, Shapley-Value)

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    Juergen Dix
    Last modified: Thu Apr 27 13:02:11 MET DST 2000