Incorporating helpful behavior into collaborative planning

Ece Kamar, Yakov Gal, Barbara J. Grosz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

This paper considers the design of agent strategies for deciding whether to help other members of a group with whom an agent is engaged in a collaborative activity. Three characteristics of collaborative planning must be addressed by these decision-making strategies: agents may have only partial information about their partners' plans for sub-tasks of the collaborative activity; the effectiveness of helping may not be known a priori; and, helping actions have some associated cost. The paper proposes a novel probabilistic representation of other agents' beliefs about the recipes selected for their own or for the group activity, given partial information. This representation is compact, and thus makes reasoning about helpful behavior tractable. The paper presents a decision-theoretic mechanism that uses this representation to make decisions about two kinds of helpful actions: communicating information relevant to a partner's plans for some sub-action, and adding domain actions that are helpful to other agent(s) into the collaborative plan. This mechanism includes a set of rules for reasoning about the utility of helpful actions and the cost incurred by doing them. It was tested using a multi-agent test-bed with configurations that varied agents' uncertainty about the world, their uncertainty about each others' capabilities or resources, and the cost of helpful behavior. In all cases, agents using the decision-theoretic mechanism to decide whether to help outperformed agents using purely axiomatic rules.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of The 8th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Place of PublicationBudapest, Hungary
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-0-9817381-7-8
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2009
Event8th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems - Budapest, Hungary
Duration: 10 May 200915 May 2009


Conference8th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Abbreviated titleAAMAS 2009
Internet address


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