CSC News

May 23, 2016

Singh Wins 2016 IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award

Congratulations to Dr. Munindar Singh, professor,in the NC State Computer Science Department for winning the 2016 International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems (IFAAMAS) Influential Paper Award.  Singh’s paper was recognized at the Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems International Conference (AAMAS) on May 9-13 in Singapore.
The winning paper is titled “Agent Communication Languages:  Rethinking the Principles.” The paper appeared in IEEE Computer in December 1998 (vol. 31 No. 12), pp. 40-47.  The abstract follows:
In the true sense of the word, an agent is a persistent computation that can perceive its environment and reason and act both alone and with other agents. The key concepts in this definition are interoperability and autonomy.  These concepts set agents apart from conventional objects, which always fulfill any methods invoked on them. Agents, in contrast, should be able to refuse an action. Thus, agents must be able to talk to each other to decide what information to retrieve or what physical action to take, such as shutting down an assembly line. The mechanism for this exchange is the agent communication language (ACL). Theoretically, an ACL should let heterogeneous agents communicate. None currently do: Although ACLs are being used in proprietary multiagent applications, nonproprietary agents cannot interoperate. The author agrees with those who lay the fault for this on the lack of a formal semantics. However, he is not convinced that the existing work on ACL semantics is heading in the right direction. Current work, he argues, is repeating the past mistake of emphasizing mental agency-the supposition that agents should be understood primarily in terms of mental concepts, such as beliefs and intentions. This approach supposes, in essence, that agents can read each other's minds. This supposition has never held for people, and for the same reason, it will not hold for agents. In this article, the author explains why an ACL's formal semantics should emphasize social agency. This approach recognizes that communication is inherently public, and thus depends on the agent's social context.
To read the award-winning paper, click here.
AAMAS is the largest and most influential conference in the area of agents and multiagent systems.  The aim of the conference is to bring together researchers and practitioners in all areas of agent technology and to provide a single, high-profile, internationally renowned forum for research in the theory and practice of autonomous agents and multiagent systems.  AAMAS is the flagship conference of the non-profit Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (IFAAMAS).

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