WPI Computer Science Department

Computer Science Department

SiFAs and their Negotiation Behaviour
in Expert Systems


Bertram Dunskus

Advisor: David C. Brown

M.S. Thesis, completed August 1994

A Single Function Agent (SiFA) is a software agent, with only one function, one point of view, and one target object on which to act. For example, an agent might be a critic (function) of material (target) from the point of view of cost. This research investigates the possibilities and implications of the SiFA concept, and analyzes the definition language, negotiation language and negotiation strategies of the agents.

After defining a domain-independent set of agent types we investigated negotiation, analyzing which pairs/groups of agents have reason to communicate, and what the information passed between them should be, as well as what knowledge was needed to support the negotiation.

A library for the CLIPS expert system shell was built, which allows development of SiFA based expert systems from domain independent templates. We will present two such systems, one as implemented for the domain of ceramic component material selection and the other (in development) for simple sailboat design. The effect of negotiation on the design process and the results are discussed, as well as directions for future research into SiFAs.


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dcb@cs.wpi.edu / Wed Sep 11 21:22:10 EDT 1996