Haiping Xu, A Model-Based Approach for Development of Multi-Agent Software Systems, Ph.D. Thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, March 2003. Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award 2004.


Haiping Xu, A Model-Based Approach for Development of Multi-Agent Software Systems (Under the direction of Dr. Sol M Shatz).

Thesis Committee: Dr. Ugo Buy, Dr. Tadao Murata, Dr. Peter Nelson, Dr. Aris Ouksel, and Dr. Sol M Shatz.

The advent of multi-agent systems has brought opportunities for the development of complex software that will serve as the infrastructure for advanced distributed applications. During the past decade, there have been many agent architectures proposed for implementing agent-based systems, and also some efforts to formally specify agent behaviors. However, research on narrowing the gap between agent formal models and agent implementation is rare. In this thesis, we present a model-based approach to designing and implementing multi-agent software systems. Instead of using formal methods only for the purpose of specifying agent behavior, we bring formal methods into the design phase of the agent development life cycle. Our approach is based on the G-net formalism, which is a type of high-level Petri net defined to support modeling of a system as a set of independent and loosely-coupled modules.

We first introduce how to extend G-nets to support class modeling and inheritance modeling for concurrent object-oriented design. Then, by viewing an agent as an extension of an object with mental states, we derive an agent-oriented G-net model from our extended G-nets that support class modeling. The agent-oriented G-net model serves as a high-level design for intelligent agents in multi-agent systems. To illustrate our formal modeling technique for agent-oriented software, an example of an agent family in electronic commerce is provided. We show how an existing Petri net tool can be used to detect design errors, and how model checking techniques can support the verification of some key behavioral properties of our agent models. In addition, we adapt the agent-oriented G-net model to support basic mobility concepts, and present design models of intelligent mobile agents. Finally, based on the high-level design, we derive the agent architecture and the detailed design needed for agent implementation. To demonstrate the feasibility of our approach, we describe a toolkit called ADK (Agent Development Kit) that supports rapid development of application-specific agents for multi-agent systems.

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UIC Graduate College Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award

Copyright © 2003 Haiping Xu. Deparment of Computer Science at UIC. All Rights Reserved.