WPI Computer Science Department

Computer Science Department

Conflicts and Negotiations in SiFA Based Design Systems

Ilan Berker

Advisor: David C. Brown

M.S. Thesis, completed April 1995

Design is a very complicated and ill-defined problem-solving activity. Routine parametric design is a more restricted and well-defined version of design problems. Even this restricted version requires many different kinds of expert knowledge and the ability to perform a variety of tasks. One approach to solving this restricted version is to use Single Function Agents (SiFAs), each of which can perform a very specialized task from a single point of view. The ability to represent expertise with different points of view is very important in design. These different points of view usually cause conflicts among agents, and these conflicts need to be resolved in order for the design process to be successful. Therefore, agents need to be capable of detecting and resolving these conflicts.

This thesis presents a model of conflicts and negotiations in the SiFA framework. Some extensions to the present state of the SiFA paradigm are introduced. A hierarchy of possible conflicts is proposed and the steps of the negotiation process are discussed. The ability of agents to negotiate in order to resolve conflicts makes SiFA-based design systems more versatile, less brittle, and easier to construct and maintain. Also, the extended SiFA paradigm, where agents have negotiation capabilities, leads to many interesting directions for further research.


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dcb@cs.wpi.edu / Thu Sep 12 20:41:12 EDT 1996