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Stellar: A Programming Model for Developing Protocol-Compliant Agents

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Abstract

An interaction protocol captures the rules of encounter in a multiagent system. Development of agents that comply with protocols is a central challenge of multiagent systems. Our contribution in this chapter is a programming model, Stellar, that simplifies development of agents compliant with information protocols specified in BSPL. A significant distinction of Stellar from similar approaches is that it does not rely upon extracting control flow structures from protocol specifications to ensure compliance. Instead, Stellar provides a set of fundamental operations to programmers for producing viable messages according to the correct flow of information between agents as specified by a protocol, enabling flexible design and implementation of protocol-compliant agents. Our main contributions are: (1) identification of a set of programming errors that commonly occur when developing agents for protocol-based multiagent system, (2) definition of Stellar’s operations and a simple yet effective pattern to develop protocol-compliant agents that avoid the identified errors, and (3) demonstration of Stellar’s effectiveness by presenting concrete agents in e-commerce and insurance policy domains.