Commitments and Responsibilities in Multiagent Systems

14 Nov
Wednesday, 11/14/2012 11:00am to 12:00pm
Distinguished Lecturer Series

Edmund H. Durfee
University of Michigan
Computer Science and Engineering

Computer Science Building 151

Faculty Host: Shlomo Zilberstein


A central challenge in scaling up multiagent systems is to design computational techniques that an agent can use to make coordinated decisions despite its limited local awareness of the situations being faced by, and decisions being made by, all the other agents. One way to address this challenge for cooperative agents is for an agent to abstractly model others, and itself, in terms of behaving predictably to fulfill complementary long-term commitments and responsibilities. Assuming that all agents will act predictably can often improve joint performance and simplify agent decision making. Unfortunately, however, actually meeting predictions can sometimes be problematic in uncertain environments, where an agent might be forced from achieving intended outcomes, or might discover hidden costs that deter it from wanting to pursue an intended plan.

This raises two fundamental questions that will be the focus of this talk: First, what latitude does an agent have to make local adjustments to its action choices while still faithfully pursuing its commitments and responsibilities to others? Second, how should the answer to the first question impact decisions about defining commitments and responsibilities that achieve the benefits of predictability without harming collective performance because individuals cannot respond flexibly enough to evolving circumstances? I will describe some of our current answers to these questions, where specific commitments and broader organizational responsibilities are expressed and reasoned about following decision-theoretic principles.

Bio: Edmund H. Durfee received the AB degree in chemistry and physics from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., in 1980, the MS degree in electrical and computer engineering and the PhD degree in computer and information science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., in 1984 and 1987, respectively. His PhD research developed an approach for planning coordinated actions and interactions in a network of distributed AI problem-solving systems.

He is currently a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan, where his interests are in distributed artificial intelligence, planning, and real-time problem solving. He has published extensively in these areas, and is author of the book Coordination of Distributed Problem Solvers (Kluwer Academic Press). In his most recent work, he has been designing a framework for coordination based on hierarchical, multi-dimensional behavior specifications, and he has been developing an integrating architecture for combining real-time and intelligent systems. He is a 1991 recipient of a Presidential Young Investigator award from the National Science Foundation.

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1988, he was a Research Computer Scientist in the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Massachusetts. He is an associate editor for the International Journal on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, and has served on many conference and workshop program committees, including being a program co-chair for the 1998 International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS) and the Conference Chair for the 2000 ICMAS. He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), a fellow of the IEEE (Computer Society), and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery. In 2012, he received an Outstanding Achievement in Research Award from the UMass Amherst Computer Science Department.

Reception in atrium at 3:40pm