Kagan Tumer's Publications

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Designing Agent Utilities for Coordinated, Scalable and Robust Multiagent Systems. K. Tumer. In P. Scerri, R. Mailler, and R. Vincent , editors, Challenges in the Coordination of Large Scale Multiagent Systems, pp. 173–188, Springer, 2005.

Abstract

Coordinating the behavior of a large number of agents to achieve a system level goal poses unique design challenges. In particular, problems of scaling (number of agents in the thousands to tens of thousands), observability (agents have limited sensing capabilities), and robustness (the agents are unreliable) make it impossible to simply apply methods developed for small multi-agent systems composed of reliable agents. To address these problems, we present an approach based on deriving agent goals that are aligned with the overall system goal, and can be computed using information readily available to the agents. Then, each agent uses a simple reinforcement learning algorithm to pursue its own goals. Because of the way in which those goals are derived, there is no need to use difficult to scale external mechanisms to force collaboration or coordination among the agents, or to ensure that agents actively attempt to appropriate the tasks of agents that suffered failures.

To present these results in a concrete setting, we focus on the problem of finding the subset of a set of imperfect devices that results in the best aggregate device. This is a large distributed agent coordination problem where each agent (e.g., device) needs to determine whether to be part of the aggregate device. Our results show that the approach proposed in this work provides improvements of over an order of magnitude over both traditional search methods and traditional multi-agent methods. Furthermore, the results show that even in extreme cases of agent failures (i.e., half the agents failed midway through the simulation) the system's performance degrades gracefully and still outperforms a failure-free and centralized search algorithm. The results also show that the gains increase as the size of the system (e.g., number of agents) increases. This latter result is particularly encouraging and suggests that this method is ideally suited for domains where the number of agents is currently in the thousands and will reach tens or hundreds of thousands in the near future.

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BibTeX Entry

@incollection{tumer_clsmas05,
	title = {Designing Agent Utilities for Coordinated, Scalable and Robust Multiagent Systems}, 
	author = {K. Tumer},
	booktitle = {Challenges in the Coordination of Large Scale Multiagent Systems},
	editor = {P. Scerri and R. Mailler and R. Vincent },
	publisher = {Springer},
	pages = {173-188},
	abstract = {Coordinating the behavior of a large number of agents to achieve a system level goal poses unique design challenges. In particular, problems of scaling (number of agents in the thousands to tens of thousands), observability (agents have limited sensing capabilities), and robustness (the agents are unreliable) make it impossible to simply apply methods developed for small multi-agent systems composed of reliable agents. 
To address these problems, we present an approach based on deriving agent goals that are aligned with the overall system goal, and can be computed using information readily available to the agents. Then, each agent uses a simple reinforcement learning algorithm to pursue its own goals.  Because of the way in which those goals are derived,  there is no need to use difficult to scale external mechanisms to force collaboration or coordination among the agents, or to ensure that agents actively attempt to appropriate the tasks of agents that suffered failures.                                               
<p>
To present these results in a concrete setting, we focus on the problem of finding the subset of a set of imperfect devices that results in the best aggregate device. This is a large distributed agent coordination problem where each agent (e.g., device) needs to determine whether to be part of the aggregate device. 
Our results show that the approach proposed in this work provides improvements of over an order of magnitude over both traditional search methods and traditional multi-agent methods. Furthermore, the results show that even in extreme cases of agent failures (i.e., half the agents failed midway through the simulation) the system's performance degrades gracefully and still outperforms a failure-free and centralized search algorithm. The results also show that the gains increase as the size of the system (e.g., number of agents) increases. This latter result is particularly encouraging and suggests that this method is ideally suited for domains where the number of agents is currently in the thousands and will reach tens or hundreds of thousands in the near future.},
	bib2html_pubtype = {Book Chapters},
	bib2html_rescat = {Multiagent Systems},
	year = {2005}
}

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