Contact : Omer Rana ( )
Number of students: 400 +17 PhD
Department/group: Computer Science, Parallel and Scientific Computing

Course: Distributed Multi-Agent Systems, Networks and Distributed Systems (some aspects of agents taught in this course also)
Lecturer: Omer Rana ( )
Duration: Approximately 25 hours per term
Part I: Prelude (The elements of 'agency', Soft and hard defintions of 'agency', All the world contains 'agents'); Agents Perspectives (Agents in robotics ... from animals to Animats (Alife and Autopoesis, Rodney Brookes' architecture, Maturana and Valdurez Autopoesis theory(brief introduction), Shanahans' Microworld), Agents in software ... from DAI to Agents (Wooldridge and Jennings' Intelligent Agents, Sycara's work on agents, Nwana's work on agents, Patti Maes' concept of agents, Task specific agents (goal directed agents), Entertainment and interface agents, Viruses))

Part II: Constructing the beast: Modelling an Agent Environment (Logic based approaches, Reactive approaches, Statistical approaches); Agent architectures (Deliberative/planning architectures, Reactive architectures, Middleware support for agent architectures, Hybrid architectures); Agent communication (ACLs) (Why's and How's, Languages, KQML AND KIF and extensions, Need for standardisation - FIPA and ARCOL); Agent behaviours (Beliefs, Desires, Intentions and Commitments model (BDI-C), Shoham et. al's Agent-0, Agent negotiation (Zlotkin et. al.), Contract Net protocol + variants, Greedy and Trust worthy agents); Static (Stationary) vs. Mobile agents (Reasons for Mobility)

Part III: Agent Application Domains: Choosing an agent type (Information Agents and Cooperative, Information systems, Interface agents, Mining agents, Shared memory blackboard systems); Agents and Software Engineering (Software Engineering support for agent construction, Distributed objects and agents); Key Application Domains and Exemplars (a VERY brief overview - Electronic Commerce and Banking, Telecommunications, Manufacturing, Process Control, Transportation Systems, Information Management, Business Process Management, Games and Interactive Theatre/Cinema, Patient Monitoring and Health Care, Internet agents)

Part IV: The end of the beginning: Future directions and applications; Challenges (technical and business) and; aspirations (personal!)
Literature recommended to students?: Various articles, no fixed text
Part of a regular curriculum?: Yes
Offered by regular staff members?: Yes
Regularly offered?: Yes
Status: Ongoing
Average number and education level of students: Approximately 70 in 'Networks and Distributed Systems', approximately 5 in 'Distributed Multi-Agent Systems'
Is material used public?: 'Distributed Multi-Agent Systems': Template page -
'Networks and Distributed Systems':

Number of Agent-related theses per year: 10 masters, 3/4 PhD


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