A Sentinel Approach to Fault Handling in Multi-Agent Systems

Document type: Researchreports
Peer reviewed: Yes
Full text:
Author(s): Staffan Hägg
Title: A Sentinel Approach to Fault Handling in Multi-Agent Systems
Series: Research Report
Year: 1996
Issue: 9
ISSN: 1103-1581
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: Dept. of Telecommunications and Mathematics (Institutionen för telekommunikation och matematik)
Dept. of Telecommunications and Mathematics S-371 79 Karlskrona
+46 455 780 00
Authors e-mail: Staffan.Hagg@ide.hk-r.se
Language: English
Abstract: Fault handling in Multi-Agent Systems (MAS) is not much addressed in current research. Normally, it is considered difficult to address in detail and often well covered by traditional methods, relying on the underlying communication and operating system. In this paper it is
shown that this is not necessarily true, at least not with the assumptions on applications we have made. These assumptions are a massive distribution of computing components, a heterogeneous underlying infrastructure (in terms of hardware, software and communication methods), an emerging configuration, possibly different parties in control of sub-systems, and real-time demands in parts of the system.
The key problem is that while a MAS is modular and therefore should be a good platform for building fault tolerant systems, it is also non-deterministic, making it difficult to
guarantee a specific behaviour, especially in fault situations. Our proposal is to introduce sentinels to guard certain functionality and to protect from undesired states. The sentinels form a control structure to the MAS, and through the semantic addressing scheme they can monitor
communication, build models of other agents, and intervene according to given guidelines.
As sentinels are agents themselves, they interact with other agents through agent communication. The sentinel approach allows system developers to first implement the
functionality (by programming the agents) and then add on a control system (the sentinels). The control system can be modified on the fly with no or minimal disturbance to the rest of the system.
The present work is conducted in cooperation with Sydkraft, a major Swedish power distribution company. Examples are taken from that venture, and it is shown how problems can
be solved by programming DA-SoC agents, developed here.
Subject: Computer Science\Artificial Intelligence
Computer Science\Distributed Computing
Software Engineering\General
Keywords: Multi-Agent Systems, Agent-Oriented Programming, Fault Handling, Sentinel
Note: Also publsihed as Proceedings of the Second Australian Workshop on Distributed AI, in conjunction with Fourth Pacific Rim International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (PRICAI'96) Cairns, Australia August 27, 1996
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-00054