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Distributed Task Allocation in Multi-Agent System Based on Decision Support Module

Distributed Task Allocation in Multi-Agent System Based on Decision Support Module

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Published by ijcsis
A Multi-Agent System (MAS) is a branch of distributed artificial intelligence, composed of a number of distributed and autonomous agents. In MAS, an effective coordination is essential for autonomous agents to reach their goals. Any decision based on a foundation of knowledge and reasoning can lead agents into successful cooperation, so to achieve the necessary degree of flexibility in coordination, an agent requires making decisions about when to coordinate and which coordination mechanism to use. The performance of any MAS depends directly with the right decisions that the agents made. Therefore the agents must have the ability of making right decisions. In this paper, we propose a decision support module in a distributed multi-agent system, which enables any agent to make decisions needed for Task allocation problem; we propose an algorithm for Task Allocation Decision Maker (TADM). Furthermore, a number of experiments were performed to validate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm (TADM)); we compare the efficiency of our algorithms with recent frameworks. The preliminary results demonstrate the efficiency of our algorithms
A Multi-Agent System (MAS) is a branch of distributed artificial intelligence, composed of a number of distributed and autonomous agents. In MAS, an effective coordination is essential for autonomous agents to reach their goals. Any decision based on a foundation of knowledge and reasoning can lead agents into successful cooperation, so to achieve the necessary degree of flexibility in coordination, an agent requires making decisions about when to coordinate and which coordination mechanism to use. The performance of any MAS depends directly with the right decisions that the agents made. Therefore the agents must have the ability of making right decisions. In this paper, we propose a decision support module in a distributed multi-agent system, which enables any agent to make decisions needed for Task allocation problem; we propose an algorithm for Task Allocation Decision Maker (TADM). Furthermore, a number of experiments were performed to validate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm (TADM)); we compare the efficiency of our algorithms with recent frameworks. The preliminary results demonstrate the efficiency of our algorithms

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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, 2010
Distributed Task Allocation in Multi-Agent SystemBased on Decision Support Module
 
Sally M. El-GhamrawyComputers and SystemsDepartment,Faculty of Engineering,Mansoura University, EgyptSally@mans.edu.eg Ali I. El-DesoukyComputers and SystemsDepartment,Faculty of Engineering,Mansoura University, Egyptali_eldesouky@yahoo.com Ahmed I. SalehComputers and SystemsDepartment,Faculty of Engineering,Mansoura University, Egyptaisaleh@mans.edu.eg 
 Abstract
-. A Multi-Agent System (MAS) is a branch of distributed artificial intelligence, composed of a number of distributed and autonomous agents. In MAS, an effectivecoordination is essential for autonomous agents to reach theirgoals. Any decision based on a foundation of knowledge andreasoning can lead agents into successful cooperation, so toachieve the necessary degree of flexibility in coordination, anagent requires making decisions about when to coordinate andwhich coordination mechanism to use. The performance of anyMAS depends directly with the right decisions that the agentsmade. Therefore the agents must have the ability of makingright decisions. In this paper, we propose a decision supportmodule in a distributed multi-agent system, which enables anyagent to make decisions needed for Task allocation problem; wepropose an algorithm for Task Allocation Decision Maker(TADM). Furthermore, a number of experiments wereperformed to validate the effectiveness of the proposedalgorithm (TADM)); we compare the efficiency of ouralgorithms with recent frameworks. The preliminary resultsdemonstrate the efficiency of our algorithms
Keywords
: .Decision Making, Task allocation, Coordination Mechanism,Multi-Agent System (MAS)
I.
 
I
NTRODUCTION
 The notion of distributed intelligent systems (DIS) [1] hasbeen a subject of interest for number of years. A Multi-Agentsystem (MAS) is one of the main areas in the DIS. AnyMulti-agent system consists of several agents capable of mutual interaction, with heterogeneous capabilities, thatcooperate with each others to pursue some set of goals, or tocomplete a specific task. MAS used to solve problems whichare difficult or impossible for an individual agent ormonolithic system to solve. Agents are autonomousprograms which can understand an environment, take actionsdepending upon the current status of the environment usingits knowledge base and also learn so as to act in the future. Inorder to solve complex problems agents have to cooperateand exhibit some level of autonomy. Agents cooperate witheach other to solve large and complex collaborativeproblems. Because the majority of work is completed throughdistributing the tasks among the cooperative agents, thedecision support module is responsible on the most of thework. So the pros and cons in decision support moduledirectly affect on the success of tasks completion andproblem solving.In [2], we proposed a Distributed Multi-Agent IntelligentSystem (DMAIS,) a general purpose agent framework, inwhich several interacting intelligent agents cooperate withsome auxiliary agents to pursue some set of goals or tasksthat are beyond their individual capabilities. There are somemodules must be considered in designing the DistributedMulti-Agent Intelligent System (DMAIS) that help indeveloping in the agent systems. There are many researchesconsidered some modules when designing multi-agentsystems (MAS) in different ways. Each autonomous agent inDMAIS must be able to decide how to behave in varioussituations, so in this paper our main concern is to propose anefficient decision support module that helps in theimprovement of DMAIS performance.Agents have attractive characteristics like: autonomy,reactivity, reasoning capability and social ability. Thesecharacteristics ensure that agent-based technologies areresponsible for enhancing the decision support systemcapabilities beyond the capabilities of the old model. Anyactive decision support can be facilitated by the autonomy,reactivity and social ability of agents. Furthermore, theartificial view of agents can contribute towards strongercollaborative relationships between a human and a decisionsupport system. These enormous interests of researchers ininvestigating the decision support in Multi-Agent Systems isdue to the great benefits of combining the decision supporttechnology and Agent-based technology with taking theadvantage of the agent characteristics. In this sense, manyresearches [3-7] recognized the promise that agent -basedtechnologies holds for enhancing DSS capabilities.Decision support module is a vital module in the success of DMAIS framework, due to the fact that any decision basedon a foundation of knowledge and reasoning can lead agentsinto successful cooperation. So the performance of any multi-agent system depends directly with the right decisions thatthe agents made. Obviously, complex decision making taskscannot be achieved by a si
ngle agent. Rather, it’s achieved by
efforts coordination of multiple agents possess different setsof expertise, attributes and assignment. This coordinationamong agents, which provide satisfactory solutions toproblems among agents, needs many decisions that agents arerequired to make before this coordination can take place. Sothe Decision support module role is to allow agents to makethe decision needed, which can help in the improvement of the DMAIS framework. In this paper, we extended the work done in DMAIS [2] by proposing a Decision support modulein it, this module is concerned about taking the rightdecisions needed to allocate a specific task to a specific agent,by using the Task Allocation Decision Maker sub-module(TADM). So we spotted on these decisions due to the great
importance for them in the improvement of agents’
coordination in DMAIS framework. The rest of the paper isorganized as following. Section 2 demonstrates the proposed
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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, 2010
decision support module. Section 3 discusses the related work on task allocation in Multi-agent Systems. An algorithm forthe Task Allocation Decision Maker (TADM) is proposed insection 4, showing the scenario of our algorithm in allocatingtasks to specific agent/s. Section 5 shows the experimentalevaluation and the results obtained after implementing theproposed algorithm. Section 6 summarizes major contributionof the paper and proposes the topics for future research.II.
 
DECISION SUPPORT MODULEIn the DMAIS framework [2], the decision support moduletakes the information collected in the coordination andnegotiation module, as shown in fig 1, so that it can help inthe decision support process.
Figure 1. The Decision Support Module in DMAIS Framework Figure 2. Architecture of the Decision Support Module
The Decision support module is activated when a decision isneeded from the agent, we concerned about two maindecisions that the agent may face: (1) the decision needed toallocate a specific task to a specific agent, making aneffective decision for the task allocation problem is a critical job for any multi-agent system; it helps our DMAISframework to complete its tasks and missions throughcooperation among agents. The Task Allocation DecisionMaker sub-module (TADM) is responsible for making thisdecision. (2) The decision needed to select appropriatecoordination mechanism, when agents need to coordinatewith another agent/s to accomplish a specific task.The decision support module contains four main phases, asshown in figure 2, first is the decision knowledgemanagement that contains:
 
 
The database
: contains the data that directly relatedto the decision problem (i.e. the performance measures, thevalues of nature states).
 
The
knowledge base
: contains the descriptions forroles and structures of document and some knowledge of the problem itself, (i.e. Guide for how to select decisionalternatives or how to interpret outputs).
 
The knowledge modeling
: is a repository containsthe decision problem formal models and the algorithms andmethodologies for developing outcomes from the formalmodels. Also contains different process models, eachmodel is represented as a set of process and event objects.
Reasoning ModuleCommunication ModuleDecision SupportModulePlanning ModuleNegotiation ModuleScheduling Module
   M  a  n  a  g  e  m  e  n   t   M  o   d  u   l  e
Execution ModuleCoordination Module
Decision knowledge Management
KnowledgeModeling
KnowledgeBase
Database
Action TakerResult Evaluator
 a s Al  l   o c  a t  i   onD e  c i   s i   on 
Data Interreter
Decision makin method identifierProper Action SelectionBuilding the representation model
 
Calculating the expected utilities of all possible
 
alternative solutions
 
D a t   a O ani   e 
 
Aent State Evaluator
Attributes estimator
Caabilities estimatorDependency estimatorBehaviors estimator
 
Task State Evaluator
Urgency degree estimatorDemands
 
estimator
 
Importance degree estimatorRelevantdata fromRelevantdata from
 C .M  S  e l   e  c  t  i   on D e  c i   s i   onM a e 
Probability of success estimatorC.M listCost Estimator
Bonus
EstimatorCalculate Maximum Switch procedure
ModuleEvaluator
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(IJCSIS) International Journal of Computer Science and Information Security,Vol. 8, No. 9, 2010
Second phase is the data organizer, which organizes
agent’s attributes using the agent state evaluator andorganizes task’s preferences by using task state evaluator 
Theagent state evaluator estimates the attributes and capabilitiesof agents, in our work we concerned on specific attributesand characteristics of the agent that will help in the decisionmaking procedure, as shown in fig 3, where:
Figure 3. Attributes, Capabilities and behaviors of Agents
Agent attributes is defined as a tuple
<AgentID(A), Addrs(A)> (1)
Where AgentID(A) is the identity of the agent, Addrs(A)records the IP address of agent A. Agent Capability is definedas a tuple
< Availability(A), Ability(A), Intensity(A)> (2)
Where Availability(A) is the ratio of total number of successful agents, capable of accomplishing the task, to thetotal number of agents in the system,
 AVLB(T)= SUC(A) / TOT (A) (3)
Ability(A) indicates number of agents capable of fulfillingthe task. Intensity(A) refers to the number of tasks that theagents can accomplish per time unit.Agent Behaviors is defined as a tuple
< Task History(A), Active degree(A), Dependency(A)> (4)
Where task history(A) stores the number of accomplishedtasks that the agent(A) performed. Active degree(A) indicatesthe activity degree of a specific agent, this degree varies fromagent to another according to many parameters (e.g. numberof finished tasks, number of cooperation process). AgentDependency(A) is concerned with the Cooperation Degree of an Agent(A) with respect to other agents in the system.Third phase is divided into two main Sub-modules: (1)TheTask Allocation Decision Maker (TADM) ,this sub-modulewill be discussed in details in the next sections, and (2) TheCoordination Mechanism Selection Decision Maker(CMSDM), that takes the decision needed to selectappropriate coordination mechanism, when agents need tocoordinate with another agent/s to accomplish a specific task,it will be discussed in our future work. Both of them areresponsible on making the proper decisions according to theinput obtained from the Data organizer phase. The moduleevaluator phase is the fourth phase, it has two main goals:first, take the action that the third phase decided to be taken.Second, evaluate the results of taking this action.III.
 
RELATED WORKThe task allocation in Multi-Agent Systems represent aproblem which occupied to a large extends the researchers of decision support and artificial intelligence until our days.Tasks allocation is defined, in [8], as the ability of agents toself-organize in groups of agents in order to perform one ormore tasks which are impossible to perform individually. Inour context, it is a problem of assigning responsibility andproblem solving resources to an agent. There are two mainbenefits for Minimizing task interdependencies in thecoordination process between the agents: First, improving theproblem solving efficiency by decreasing communicationoverhead among the agents. Second, improving the chancesfor solution consistency by minimizing potential conflicts.The issue of task allocation was one of the earliest problemsto be worked on in Distributed Artificial Intelligence (DAI)research. In this sense, several authors studied the problemrelated to Task Allocation especially in MAS. The researchesin task allocation can be classified in to two main parts,centralized and distributed, based on utility/cost functions.The researches that investigate the task allocationproblem in a centralized manner: Zheng and Koenig [9]presented reaction functions for task allocation to cooperative
 
agents. The objective is to find a solution with a small team
 
cost and each target to be assigned to the exact number of 
 
different agents. This work assumed that there is a central
 
planner to allocate tasks to agents. Kraus et al. [10] proposedan auction based protocol which enables agents to form
 
coalitions with time constrains. This protocol assumed each
 
agent knows the capabilities of all others, and one manager
 
isresponsible for allocating tasks to all coalitions. Pinedo [11]proposed a job shop scheduling treats the task allocationmostly in a centralized manner, and also ignores thecommunication cost. There are many drawbacks in thecentralized task allocation like single point failure and badscalability. To conquer these disadvantages, Task allocationin distributed environments has also been investigated. Davisand Smith [12] was the first in investigating a classicdistributed task allocation in the multi
 – 
agent system usingContract Net Protocol (CNP), in which agents negotiate toassign tasks among themselves. Most of the subsequentliterature on distributed task allocation is based on eithercontract net protocol or auctions [13]. The authors in [14]and [15] developed distributed algorithms with lowcommunication complexity for forming coalitions in large-scale multi-agent systems. Abdallah and Lesser [16] provideda decision theoretic model in order to limit the interactionsbetween agents and mediators. Mediators in this researchmean the agents which receive the task and have connectionsto other agents. Mediators have to decompose the task intosubtasks and negotiate with other agents to obtaincommitments to execute these subtasks. However, their work concentrated on modelling the decision process of a singlemediator. Sander et al. [17] presented a scalable anddistributed task allocation protocol. The algorithm adopted inthis protocol is based on computation geometry techniquesbut the prerequ
isite of this approach is that agents’ and tasks’
geographical positions are known. Weerdt et al. [18]proposed a distributed task allocation protocol in socialnetworks. This protocol only allows neighbouring agents tohelp with a task which might result in high probability of abandon of tasks when neighbours cannot offer sufficientresources. Dayong et al. [19] proposed an Efficient Task Allocation Protocol (ETAP) protocol based on the ContractNet approach, but more suitable for dealing with task allocation problems in P2P multi-agent systems with a
212http://sites.google.com/site/ijcsis/ISSN 1947-5500

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