This paper presents a novel method for analysing the behaviour of multiagent systems on the basis of the semantically rich information provided by agent communication languages and interaction protocols specified at the knowledge level. More low-level communication mechanisms only allow for a quantitative analysis of the occurrence of message types, the frequency of message sequences, and the empirical distributions of parameter values. Quite differently, the semantics of languages and protocols in multiagent systems can help to extract qualitative properties of observed conversations among agents. This can be achieved by interpreting the logical constraints associated with protocol execution paths or individual messages as the context of an observed interaction, and using them as features of learning samples. The contexts “mined” from such analyses, or context models, can then be used for various tasks, e.g. for predicting others’ future responses (useful when trying to make strategic communication decisions to achieve a particular outcome), to support ontological alignment (by comparing the properties of logical constraints attached to messages across participating agents), or to assess the trustworthiness of agents (by verifying the logical coherence of their behaviour). This paper details a formal approach that describes our notion of context models in multiagent conversations, an implementation of this approach in a practical tool for mining qualitative context models, and experimental results to illustrate its use and utility.
- Agent-oriented software engineering