We are interested in the problem of multi-agent contracting, in which customers must solicit the resources and capabilities of other, self-interested agents in order to accomplish their goals. Goals may involve the execution of multi-step plans, in which different steps are contracted out to different suppliers. We have focused on decision criteria for composing requests for quotations, managing the bidding process, evaluating bids, and monitoring plan execution. We have developed a testbed that allows us to study these decision behaviors. It can generate sets of plans with known statistical attributes, formulate and submit requests for quotations, generate bids with well-defined statistics, and evaluate those bids according to a number of criteria. Each of these processes is supported by an abstract interface and a series of pluggable modules with a large number of configuration parameters. Data collection and analysis tools round out the package. We will demonstrate how to take statistics from a real application domain, apply them to the simulation, and test a variety of bid-management and bid-evaluation procedures against them.
Collins, John; Gini, Maria.
Exploring Decision Processes in Multi-Agent Automated Contracting.
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