Software Engineering for Multi-Agent Systems IV: Research Issues and Practical Applications

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As computing and communication permeates the essential aspects of the societal infrastructure, software must become more nimble, slimmer, more natural, and more discrete.

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Software must integrate itself in an organic way into the activities it serves and the resources it exploits. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Computer Science Software Engineering. Programming and Software Engineering Lect. Buy eBook. Buy Softcover. The chapters included are devoted to various techniques and methods used to cope with the complexity of real-world MAS. Reflecting the importance of agent properties in today's software syst. Reflecting the importance of agent properties in today's software systems, the power of agent-based software engineering is illustrated using examples that are representative of successful applications.

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Ricardo Choren. Depending on the applied tools, the system or at least parts of it can be generated from the models, and the models can be updated according to the implementation. However, the latter is still a hot topic of current research.


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In this section we will have a look at the JIAC framework, which satisfies this requirement. Furthermore, the framework features transparent distribution of agents and services, semantic ser- vice descriptions based on ontologies , agent management, and provides support for dynamic reconfiguration in distributed environments, such as component ex- change at runtime and strong migration. While agent beans are required for some sorts of behaviour, e. JIAC comes with a set of tools, supporting development from the analysis to the deployment of multi-agent applications.

The most important tools regarding our methodology are introduced in the next sections. This stage is supported by the Visual Service Design Tool VSDT [9], a BPMN editor, providing process analysis and validation tools, such as a process structure view, a process simulator, and the generation of natural language pro- cess documentation see Fig. The VSDT is also used for creating the use case diagrams, establishing the relation of participants to processes and connecting the individual business process diagrams to a complete system.

The VSDT includes an extensible transformation framework, which is re- sponsible for grouping the nodes of the process graphs to blocks of structured programming languages i. The use case diagrams are translated to the agent role model and the relation of the roles to the generated services. These models then serve as input for the Agent World Editor. AWE allows for the visual creation and editing of multi-agent systems via drag and drop and supports concepts such as agent-nodes, -types and -roles or com- ponents.

The applied notation is simple but comprehensive and represents the entire MAS in one single diagram as directed graph see Fig. A code generation feature allows for the generation of executable code from the visual MAS design. The tool facilitates the development of JIAC services with features such as syntax highlighting, code completion, and error marking Fig. Regarding the methodology, JADLedit is used for the implementation of previously generated service stubs. Thus, JADLedit allows for type safe editing of knowledge facts.

For this purpose JADLedit includes an ontology browser view, which can be used for browsing existing OWL ontologies, providing a visual representation of their classes and properties. First, the use cases are identified using the VSDT. The next step is ontology engineering. We have categories such as Seller and Bidder, holding e. However, we will not go into more detail here and fast-forward to the process engineering instead. Each use case corresponds to a business process, and modelling these is the main task of the VSDT. Close Auction is the most interesting, so we will have a closer look at it.

Each of the actors involved in the use case corresponds to a pool: Auction- eer, Bidder, and Seller. The auctioneer starts the process when the time of the auction is over. He acts as trustee between seller and bidder, which are more or less just reacting to him. In case there are no bids at all, the seller is notified and the process terminates.

Otherwise, both the seller and the awarded bidder are notified, and the auctioneer waits for the bidder to transfer the money. When the bidder informs the auctioneer that the money has been transferred, the auction- eer notifies the seller, who then ships the goods and informs the auctioneer. The full process can be seen in Fig. While the VSDT does provide means for assisting this task, e. We enrich the role model with additional roles and components needed for the example, aggregate the roles to agents and place these agents on agent nodes. In our example, we have one auctioneer agent and some agents implementing the roles of both, seller and bidder, all situated on one node, as depicted in Fig.

Left: Use Case diagram. Right: Agent World Diagram. The framed portion has been generated from the use case and process diagrams. Note that while for each actor one role has been created, there are more components in this case: JADL services that there were use cases. For each pool i.

This results in two JADL services being generated for the seller. Thus, the activity dismiss auction is duplicated and moved to the end of the two branches, just before the merging gateway. The generated JADL services, holding the necessary communication with the business partners and the basic branches and decisions, can now be further refined and extended using the JADLedit source code editor. This seems like double work done by the modeller as they use goals as finite states of the processes see for example [15].

We have chosen the transformation approach here, because process models are not the only source for JIAC-based applications see also [16, 17]. So the runtime environment is the integration point for heterogeneous design methods.

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The Prometheus Methodology [18] also integrates the advantages of pro- cess orientation into the agent-oriented software development. The Methodology comprises the three main topics System Specification, Architectural Design, and Detailed Design, and provides MAS development on the basis of several differ- ent diagrams.

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Prometheus applies processes for the detailed design of each single agent type. For the specification of these processes, an extension to the UML ac- tivity diagram notation is used. At this point, Cheong and Winikoff have shown in [19] how Prometheus can easily be improved by different methods. They have used Hermes [20] here to improve the design process regarding agent interactions, which is exactly the domain of BPMN, only for business processes. Like Prometheus, the Gaia Methodology [21] has been designed to provide formally guided and comfortable MAS development.

Each phase comprises the creation of various diagrams, each one highlighting particular as- pects of the MAS. In comparison with other methodologies, Gaia exceedingly attends to organisational abstractions, with a particular focus on organisational 2 As a result, the third service, holding the common part, is in fact empty. Gaia is not intended to commit to the adoption of a specific notation. With regard to the organisational structure, other notations can be adopted to describe and represent roles and their interactions.

Software Engineering for Multi-Agent Systems IV: Research Issues and Practical Applications

While they use processes for modelling agent plans, too, they use their own simple notation. A nice effect of this approach is that workflows can inherit from each other, and that the control flow of the workflow can be revisited without con- flicting with the manually written code. The Tropos methodology [27] is model-driven approach to agent-oriented software engineering and consists of a visual notation combined with guide- lines for five development phases. It provides strong features for requirements analysis bases on the notions of actor, goal, plan, resource and dependency. For design activities it is combined with features from other software modelling techniques such as UML sequence and activity diagrams together with extension from AUML [28] or it inherits notions from the agent framework that is used to implement the multi-agent system such as Jadex [29].

While Tropos is very strong in analysing requirements we prefer the vocabulary and expressiveness of BPMN for capturing and modelling the procedural knowledge of how thing are done or ought to be done. A solution to this problem is to provide a view of the entire system, especially during the earlier development stages. In this paper, we make a case for a methodology combining agent-oriented software engineering with business process design using the Business Process Modeling Notation BPMN.


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  5. Many aspects of agents are found in BPMN, too, such as roles and communication, making it very suitable for modelling these parts of multi-agent systems. Still, using BPMN for a complete multi-agent sys- tems is not practical, thus our methodology does not rely on business process modelling alone, but also includes the declaration of use cases and data types, the design of agent organisation and distribution, and traditional programming. Therefore, we illustrated the methodology by modelling a simple online auction scenario using the JIAC framework and its tools.

    Of course, there are limitations to visual, process oriented design of agent sys- tems. While the unstructuredness presented in our example could be resolved, there are process diagrams which can not be structured as well [30]. Further, ad- ditional research is needed on how the dynamic aspects of multi-agent systems — goals and planning — can best be integrated in the more rigid structures of a business process, for example by extending the concept of the ad-hoc process.