3

Multi-Agent Systems

3.1. Introduction

The classic approach of artificial intelligence (AI), which builds on centralized expertise within a unique system, has shown its limits in different domains of computer science.

Distributed artificial intelligence (DAI) is defined as being the branch of AI that is concerned with the modeling of “intelligent” behavior through the cooperation of a group of agents.

DAI proposes the distribution of expertise among a group of agents capable of working and acting in a shared environment and resolving potential conflicts.

Currently, the domain of multi-agent systems is a very active area of research, which deals with the collective behavior produced by the interactions between several agents.

This chapter discusses multi-agent systems (MAS) and their application in the domain of telecommunications, as well as their interactions, cooperation, coordination and the communication between agents.

3.2. Definition of an agent

There are several definitions of agents in the literature; they are similar but differ depending on the type of application that the agent was created for.

According to Ferber [FER 95], an agent is a physical or virtual entity that acts in an environment, directly communicates with other agents, has its own resources, is capable of partially detecting its environment and is competent. Depending on resources, competencies and communication, an agent aims to fulfill its objectives.

Jennings [JEN 98] proposed the following definition ...

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