A Sentinel Approach to Fault Handling in Multi-Agent Systems

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Staffan Hägg
Title: A Sentinel Approach to Fault Handling in Multi-Agent Systems
Conference name: Second Australian Workshop on Distributed Artificial Intelligence, Cairns, QLD, Australia, August 27, 1996
Year: 1997
Pagination: 181-95
ISBN: 3-540-63412-6
Publisher: Springer
City: Berlin
ISI number: 000083171100013
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: Dept. of Computer Science and Business Administration (Institutionen för datavetenskap och ekonomi)
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+46 455 780 00
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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. It is shown that this is not necessarily true, at least not with the assumptions on applications we have made. These assumptions are: massive distribution of computing components; heterogeneous underlying infrastructure (in terms of hardware, software and communication methods); emerging configuration; possibly different parties in control of subsystems; and real time demands in parts of the system. The key problem is that while a MAS is modular, it is also non deterministic, making it difficult to guarantee a specific behaviour. 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. Sentinels 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 work presented is conducted in cooperation with Sydkraft, a Swedish power distribution company. Examples are taken from that venture, and it is shown how problems can be solved by programming DA-SoC agents.
Subject: Computer Science\Artificial Intelligence
Computer Science\Distributed Computing
Keywords: cooperative systems, electricity supply industry, fault tolerant computing, real-time systems, software agents