An ant-based coordination mechanism for resource-constrained project scheduling with multiple agents and cash flow objectives
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We consider a multi-agent extension of the non-preemptive single-mode resource-constrained project scheduling problem with discounted cash flow objectives. Such a problem setting is related to project scheduling problems which involve different autonomous firms where project activities are uniquely assigned to the project parties (agents). Taking into account opportunistic agents and the resulting information asymmetry we propose a general decentralized negotiation approach which uses ideas from ant colony optimization. In the course of the negotiation the agents iteratively vote on proposed project schedules without disclosing preference information regarding cash flow values. Computational experiments serve to analyze the agent-based coordination mechanism in comparison to other approaches from the literature. The proposed mechanism turns out as an effective method for coordinating self-interested agents with conflicting goals which collaborate in resource-constrained projects.
KeywordsResource-constrained project scheduling Decentralized coordination Ant colony optimization
The authors are most grateful for the helpful comments of the anonymous reviewers which have contributed to improve the paper.
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