The Refinement of Multi-Agent Systems

Chapter

Abstract

This chapter introduces an encompassing theory of refinement which supports a top-down methodology for designing multi-agent systems. We present a general modelling framework where we identify different abstraction levels of BDI agents. On the one hand, at a higher level of abstraction we introduce the language BUnity as a way to specify “what” an agent can do. On the other hand, at a more concrete layer we introduce the language BUpL as implementing not only what an agent can do but also “when” the agent can do. At this stage of individual agent design, refinement is understood as trace inclusion. Having the traces of an implementation included in the traces of a given specification means that the implementation is correct with respect to the specification.

We generalise the theory of agent refinement to multi-agent systems in the presence of new coordination mechanisms extended with real time. The generalisation is such that refinement is compositional. This means that refinement at the individual level implies refinement at the multi-agent system level. Compositionality is an important property since it reduces heavily the verification process. Thus having a theory of refinement is a crucial step towards the verification of multi-agent systems’ correctness.

Keywords

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CWI (Centrum Wiskunde en Informatica)AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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