Coordinating human and computer agents

  • Keith S. Decker
Agent-Based Coordination
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1364)


In many application areas individuals are responsible for an agenda of tasks and face choices about the best way to locally handle each task, in what order to do tasks, and when to do them. Such decisions are often hard to make because of coordination problems: individual tasks are related to the tasks of others in complex ways, and there are many sources of uncertainty (no one has a complete view of the task structure at arbitrary levels of detail, the situation may be changing dynamically, and no one is entirely sure of the outcomes of all of their actions). The focus of this paper is the development of support tools for distributed, cooperative work by groups (collaborative teams) of human and computational agents. We will discuss the design of a set of distributed autonomous computer programs (“agents”) that assist people in coordinating their activities by helping them to manage their agendas. We describe several ongoing implementations of these ideas including 1) simulated agents and tasks, 2) a real multi-agent system for financial portfolio management, and 3) a real mixed human and computational agent system for concurrent engineering design.


Multiagent System Task Group Coordination Mechanism Task Environment Task Structure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    C. Castelfranchi. Commitments:from individual intentions to groups and organizations. In Michael Prietula, editor, AI and theories of groups & organizations: Conceptual and Empirical Research. AAAI Workshop, 1993. Working Notes.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    CHECKMATE. Air campaign planning—an approach for the future. White Paper.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Philip R. Cohen and Hector J. Levesque. Intention is choice with commitment. Artificial Intelligence, 42(3):213–261, 1990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    C. Collet, M.N. Huhns, and W. Shen. Resource integration using a large knowledge base in Carnot. Computer, pages 55–62, December 1991.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    ISX Corporation. ACPT—the air campaign planning tool. White Paper.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    K. Decker, A. Pannu, K. Sycara, and M. Williamson. Designing behaviors for information agents. In Proceedings of the 1st Intl. Conf. on Autonomous Agents, pages 404–413, Marina del Rey, February 1997.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    K. Decker, K. Sycara, and M. Williamson. Middle-agents for the internet. In Proceedings of the Fifteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Nagoya, Japan, August 1997.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    K. Decker, M. Williamson, and K. Sycara. Intelligent adaptive information agents. In Proceedings of the AAAI-96 Workshop on Intelligent Adaptive Agents, 1996. AAAI Press Tech Report WS-96-04.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Keith S. Decker. Environment Centered Analysis and Design of Coordination Mechanisms. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts, 1995.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Keith S. Decker and Victor R. Lesser. An approach to analyzing the need for meta-level communication. In Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pages 360–366, Chambéry, France, August 1993.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Keith S. Decker and Victor R. Lesser. Quantitative modeling of complex computational task environments. In Proceedings of the Eleventh National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pages 217–224, Washington, July 1993.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Keith S. Decker and Victor R. Lesser. Designing a family of coordination algorithms. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems, pages 73–80, San Francisco, June 1995. AAAI Press. Longer version available as UMass CS-TR 94-14.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    E. H. Durfee and T. A. Montgomery. Coordination as distributed search in a hierarchical behavior space. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 21(6):1363–1378, November 1991.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Edmund H. Durfee, Victor R. Lesser, and Daniel D. Corkill. Coherent cooperation among communicating problem solvers. IEEE Transactions on Computers, 36(11):1275–1291, November 1987.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    E.H. Durfee and V.R. Lesser. Partial global planning: A coordination framework for distributed hypothesis formation. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 21(5):1167–1183, September 1991.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mark S. Fox. An organizational view of distributed systems. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 11(1):70–80, January 1981.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    J. Galbraith. Organizational Design. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1977.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Alan Garvey, Marty Humphrey, and Victor Lesser. Task interdependencies in design-to-time real-time scheduling. In Proceedings of the Eleventh National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pages 580–585, Washington, July 1993.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Alan Garvey and Victor Lesser. Design-to-time real-time scheduling. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 23(6):1491–1502, 1993.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    T.R. Gruber. Toward principles for the design of ontologies used for knowledge sharing. Technical Report KSL-93-4, Knowledge Systems Laboratory, Stanford University, 1993.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Carl Hewitt. Offices are open systems. ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems, 4(3):271–287, July 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    N. R. Jennings. Commitments and conventions: The foundation of coordination in multi-agent systems. The Knowledge Engineering Review, 8(3):223–250, 1993.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    W. Kim and J. Seo. Classifying schematic and data heterogeneity in multidatabase systems. Computer, pages 12–18, December 1991.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch. Organization and Environment. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1967.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Thomas W. Malone. What is coordination theory? In Proceedings of the National Science Foundation Coordination Theory Workshop, February 1988.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Sergei Nirenburg and Victor Lesser. Providing intelligent assistance in distributed office environments. In Alan H. Bond and Les Gasser, editors, Readings in Distributed Artificial Intelligence, pages 590–598. Morgan Kaufmann, 1988.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Tim Oates, M. V. Nagendra Prasad, Victor R. Lesser, and Keith S. Decker. A distributed problem solving approach to cooperative information gathering. In AAAI Spring Symposium on Information Gathering in Distributed Environments, Stanford University, March 1995.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    L. Obrst, M. Woytowitz, D. Rock, S. Lander, K. Gallagher, and K. Decker. Agent-based integrated project teams. Submitted, 1997 ASME Design Engineering and Computers in Engineering Conference; Engineering Information Management Symposium, 1997.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    P. S. Ow, M. J. Prietula, and W. Hsu. Configuring knowledge-based systems to organizational structures: Issues and examples in multiple agent support. In L. F. Pau, J. Motiwalla, Y. H. Pao, and H. H. Teh, editors, Expert Systems in Economics, Banking, and Management, pages 309–318. North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1989.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    M.V. Nagendra Prasad and V.R. Lesser. Learning situation-specific coordination in generalized partial global planning. In AAAI Spring Symposium on Adaptation, Co-evolution and Learning in Multiagent Systems, Stanford, March 1996.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Arthur L. Stinchcombe. Information and Organizations. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1990.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    K. Sycara, K. Decker, A. Pannu, M. Williamson, and D. Zeng. Distributed intelligent agents. IEEE Expert, 11(6):36–46, December 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Frank v. Martial. Coordinating Plans of Autonomous Agents. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1992. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence no. 610.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    T. Wagner, A. Garvey, and V. Lesser. Complex goal criteria and its application in design-to-criteria scheduling. In Proceedings of the Fourteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Providence, July 1997.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    D.L. Westbrook, S.D. Anderson, D.M. Hart, and P.R. Cohen. Common lisp instrumentation package: User manual. Technical Report 94-26, Department of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts, 1994.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    M. Williamson, K. Decker, and K. Sycara. Unified information and control flow in hierarchical task networks. In Proceedings of the AAAI-96 workshop on Theories of Planning, Action, and Control, 1996.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith S. Decker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewark

Personalised recommendations