Producing Compliant Interactions: Conformance, Coverage, and Interoperability
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Agents in an open system interact with each other based on (typically, published) protocols. An agent may, however, deviate from the protocol because of its internal policies. Such deviations pose certain challenges: (1) the agent might no longer be conformant with the protocol—how do we determine if the agent is conformant? (2) the agent may no longer be able to interoperate with other agents—how do we determine if two agents are interoperable? (3) the agent may not be able to produce some protocol computations; in other words, it may not cover the protocol—how we determine if an agent covers a protocol?
We formalize the notions of conformance, coverage and interoperability. A distinctive feature of our formalization is that the three are orthogonal to each other. Conformance and coverage are based on the semantics of runs (a run being a sequence of states), whereas interoperability among agents is based upon the traditional idea of blocking. We present a number of examples to comprehensively illustrate the orthogonality of conformance, coverage, and interoperability.
Compliance is a property of an agent’s execution whereas conformance is a property of the agent’s design. In order to produce only compliant executions, first and foremost the agent must be conformant; second, it must also be able to interoperate with other agents.
KeywordsTransition System Multiagent System Customer Agent Commitment Protocol Causal Product
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