This project is concerned with developing suitable methodologies, including the concepts, notation, processes, and supporting tools to design, implement, debug test and maintain multi-agent systems.
Intelligent Agent systems are often more complex than the more traditional approaches like Object-Oriented as they are built to operate proactively in highly dynamic environments. Specialized concepts and processes are necessary to model and design such systems and produce executable programs. One current emphasis of the project is on developing automated testing frameworks, to enable extensive and robust testing, at all levels from unit testing through integration and interaction testing, to system and acceptance testing.
The research group has been actively involved in the area of Agent Oriented software Engineering for over 14 years and is a pioneer in the field. The popular Prometheus methodology for developing agents was created within the group and in 2004, Prof. Padgham co-authored the first text book for developing intelligent agent systems. The Prometheus Design Tool (PDT) has also been developed within the group over more than 10 years to support the methodolgy. In 2005 a demonstration of PDT won the 'best demo award' at the premier international agents conference. The tool attracts over 500 downloads each year and is used in academia for teaching as well as by some industry developers.
The group has many publications in this area at top-ranked international conferences such as AAMAS and AAAI, as well as in the AOSE workshop series and in related Journals such as IJAOSE and JAAMAS. Collectively the group's publications in this area have over 1100 citations (using Harzing's publish or perish).
There have been five PhD completions in this area, and there are two current PhD students. There has been long standing collaboration with industry partner Agent Oriented Software who are the developers of the Agent Programming Language (JACK). The group also has links with the Bureau of Meteorology, Realthing Entertainment and CAE International, each of whom has been Linkage partners.
- Tools, methodologies and reasoning support for developing companion-toy modules (ARC Linkage, Realthing Entertainment)
- Integrating and Automating Testing in Multi-agent Systems Development (ARC Linkage, CAE International)
- Flexible and Robust Protocol-Based Interaction between Agents in Open Systems (ARC Linkage, Agent Oriented Software)
- Advanced Software Engineering Support for Intelligent Agents (ARC Linkage, Agent Oriented Software)
- Open agent architectures for intelligent distributed decision making (ARC Linkage, Bureau of Meteorology)
- Simplifying the development of Agent Oriented Systems (ARC SPIRT grant)