Contents

  1. 1 Current Projects
    1. 1.1 Decision making for lifetime affordable and tenable city housing
    2. 1.2 Optimisation of Embedded Virtual Complex Systems by Re-Using a Library of Available Components
  2. 2 Past Projects
    1. 2.1 Integrating and Automating Testing in Multi-agent Systems Development
    2. 2.2 Tools, Methodologies and Reasoning Support for Developing Companion-Toy Modules
    3. 2.3 Intention Selection in Intelligent Agent Systems
    4. 2.4 An Extensible Agent-Based Framework for Exploring Climate Change Adaptation
    5. 2.5 Exploring the Adaptive Capacity of Emergency Management Using Agent-Based Modelling
    6. 2.6 Agent based simulation framework for improved understanding of community & organisational resilience to extreme events
    7. 2.7 Tools for Simulation Modules: Water Sustainability
    8. 2.8 A Framework for Adaptive Extensible Personae for Interactive Toys
    9. 2.9 Complex Decision Making in Intelligent Agents
    10. 2.10 Acts of electronic negotiation: Overcoming communication barriers to transdisciplinary innovation in design
    11. 2.11 Service-oriented negotiation and coordination in multi-agent systems
    12. 2.12 Planning and Learning in BDI Agents
    13. 2.13 Advanced Software Engineering Support for Intelligent Agent Systems
    14. 2.14 Description, Composition, Discovery, and Deployment of Intelligent Agent Services
    15. 2.15 Open agent architectures for intelligent distributed decision making
    16. 2.16 Presentation of Complex Systems
    17. 2.17 High Energy Physics: GRID
    18. 2.18 Flexible and Robust Protocol-Based Interaction between Agents in Open Systems
    19. 2.19 Simplifying the Development of Agent Oriented Systems

Current Projects

Decision making for lifetime affordable and tenable city housing

Year: 2013 - 2016
Grant: ARC Linkage LP130100008
Summary: This project will study home buying decisions and outcomes and use this to provide new insights into housing affordability and liveability. The project will develop an innovative software tool for Australia's home buyers to explore affordability and liveability during home buying, and agent-based modelling of scenarios for urban development futures.
Participants: Ralph Horne, Lin Padgham, Dhirendra Singh, Trivess Moore, Megan Nethercote
Industry Partner(s): SJB Urban, Metropolitan Planning Authority
Details: Project Webpage

Optimisation of Embedded Virtual Complex Systems by Re-Using a Library of Available Components

Year: 2012 - 2015
Grant: ARC Discovery DP120100332
Summary: Nowadays, there are benefits in building complex embedded systems, such as a house surveillance agent, by re-using  and combining available modules, such as cameras, blinds, phones, lights, etc. Because complete construction may be impossible, this project devises methods for automatically achieving the desired system to the highest-degree possible.
Participants: Sebastian Sardina, Maurice Pagnucco (UNSW), Giuseppe De Giacomo (Sapienza Universita' di Roma), Miquel Ramirez
Details: Project Webpage (coming soon)


Past Projects


Integrating and Automating Testing in Multi-agent Systems Development

Year:2011 - 2013
Grant:ARC Linkage LP100100037
Summary:The goal of this project is to produce a complete methodology, including tool support, for model-based testing of multi-agent systems. This project will build on our existing work for model-based unit testing of agent systems, and debugging of multi-agent systems, to produce tools and techniques for integration testing and system-level testing in multi-agent systems. The models used will be the artifacts produced during the requirements engineering and design phases of development, mainly based on the Prometheus methodology. Research already undertaken at the Intelligent Systems Group at RMIT on model-based unit testing of agents and model-based debugging of agent interactions is pioneering work in this area.
Participants:Lin Padgham, John Thangarajah, Tim Miller (UoM), Jimmy Sun, Gaya Jayatilleke, Ke Sun
Industry Partner(s):Agent Oriented Software
Details:Project Webpage

Tools, Methodologies and Reasoning Support for Developing Companion-Toy Modules

Year:2011 - 2013
Grant:ARC Linkage LP110100050
Summary:This project addresses the research problem of integrating new software modules into a complex environment, in an incremental and customised manner. There are substantial advantages to distributed and incremental development of complex applications. It is also advantageous for users to be able to determine which additional functionalities they wish to purchase. Our aims are to:
  • Establish a greater understanding of incremental, distributed, modular development of complex interactive systems, using plug-in software modules.
  • Develop an understanding of interfaces that support the use of plug-in modules, without requiring the modules to be built in a way that is tightly integrated with the core system.
  • Enhance re-usability of existing software, by exploring how it can be integrated into a complex interactive system, using agent ``wrappers''.
  • Develop an appropriate methodology and identify the supporting toolset to facilitate and guide a developer in building plug-in modules for a complex interactive application.
Participants:Lin Padgham, John Thangarajah , Wei Liu (UWA), Wilson Wong, Lawrence Cavedon
Industry Partner(s):Real Thing
Details:Project Webpage

Intention Selection in Intelligent Agent Systems

Year:2010 - 2012
Grant:ARC Discovery DP1094627
Summary:Intelligent agents are a powerful and successful approach to building systems operating in complex and dynamic environments. This project will develop mechanisms for intelligent agents to rationally manage the multiplicity of tasks that is typical of these systems. At each point in time an agent must decide what to do next. By managing the focus of attention in an intelligent manner, the agent can ensure that important and urgent tasks are done first, that interacting tasks are managed appropriately, and that goals are eventually achieved. Intelligent multi-tasking is a core feature of agent systems and the outcome of this project will provide significant gains to the current state of the art.
Participants:Lin Padgham, Sebastian Sardina, John Thangarajah
Details:Project Webpage

An Extensible Agent-Based Framework for Exploring Climate Change Adaptation

Year:2010 - 2012
Grant:ARC Discovery DP1093290
Summary:

The goal of this project is to facilitate exploration of possible climate change adaptation (CCA) strategies, using an interactive platform incorporating multiple agent-based simulation modules. The aim is to build up complex simulations by incrementally adding new agent-based models created by members of a large distributed community, interested in the application area. Each module will capture a different aspect of the situation, and could potentially be created independently by people with expertise relating only to that aspect. We are thus developing an extensible, open-source framework which allows individual modules, possibly pre-existing and implemented under different paradigms, to be integrated in a common environment. 
Agent-based modelling (ABM), is particularly suited to addressing the complexity of CCA because it allows emergent phenomena to be captured at the macro-level, by modelling autonomous, decision-making entities at the micro-level, then simulating their interaction with each other and the environment. This ABM approach will be enhanced by our proposed inclusion of entities based on the Belief Desire Intention (BDI) agent architecture, which facilitates more complex reasoning agents than are commonly used in ABM modelling. These entities may include complex social organisations or groups as well as individuals. The platform we are using to integrate the modules, and provide an interface for user interaction, is Civilization IV, an existing game engine with a substantial user base. Thus there is the potential for broad uptake and contribution from many diverse sources, which will increase the impact the work is able to have. The extension of ABM to an interactive platform is an innovative idea which builds on the technology developed for games, using it in a manner similar that described as serious games. 
The project is a cross-disciplinary one, involving both technical and social science challenges.The specific aims are:

  • Identification of key concepts and their semantics, for exploring CCA questions via (interactive) agent based simulation.
  • Creation of an extensible framework for modelling and implementing CCA problems at the operational level, using a modular approach.
  • Development of an understanding on how to manage the balance between control and emergence in the simulation.
  • Establishment of a methodology and preliminary toolset for building a new application or extending an existing one.
  • Production of one or more prototypes focussing on a particular CCA question/area.
Participants:Lin Padgham, Fabio Zambetta, Colin Fudge, Alexis Drogoul, Sarah Hickmott, Dave Scerri
Collaborators:Peter HayesDarryn McEvoy
Details:Project Webpage

Exploring the Adaptive Capacity of Emergency Management Using Agent-Based Modelling

Year: 2012
Grant: NCCARF EM1105
Summary: The aim of this project is to explore, in close collaboration with the City of Port Phillip and end-users from across the Prevention, Preparedness, Response, Recovery (PPRR) spectrum, the use of agent-based modelling to support an understanding of the emergency management sector's capacity to support PPRR under a changing climate; and to support informed decision making about policy and governance issues for adapting to the changing climate.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Sarah Hickmott, Shae Hunter, Dhirendra Singh, Dave Scerri
Industry Partner(s): City of Port Phillip
Collaborators: Victoria State Emergency Service
Details: Project Webpage

Agent based simulation framework for improved understanding of community & organisational resilience to extreme events

Year: 2010
Grant: NCCARF Grant EM09056
Summary: The goal of this project is to develop a modular agent based simulation platform, that allows emergency management stakeholders to explore complex multi-scalar, multi-actor, emergency management interactions under uncertain future conditions, in order to promote more effective governance arrangements. The platform is also intended to be a long term decision support tool suitable for the development of agent based simulations which address a range of extreme events, such as coastal flooding, heat stress, etc. The platform and expertise that will be developed is part of the broader work that explores the use of Agent Based Modeling and Simulation in the area of Climate Change Adaptation.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Fabio Zambetta, Sarah Hickmott, Dave Scerri, Darryn McEvoy, Gaya Jayatilleke, Karyn Bosomworth
Details: Project Webpage

Tools for Simulation Modules: Water Sustainability

Year: 2010
Grant: RMIT Computer Science Seed Grant
Summary: This project will look at tools and paradigms for simulation, in the context of issues around water sustainability. We will develop a set of characteristics that make one modelling paradigm more suitable than another for a particular category of problem or aspect of a domain. We will then develop a methodology, to allow modellers of a CCA domain to identify the best modelling approach for each aspect of the domain/problem. We will investigate modelling tools used within the industry, as well as agent based tools which are the specialty of the research group. The team is working with a small company, Net Balance, whose business is adaptation and risk management related to climate change. They have several clients whose concerns centre around water sustainability.
Participants: Sarah Hickmott , Fabio Zambetta, Dave Scerri
Collaborators: Lin Padgham , Cecily Maller, Gaya Jayatilleke
Industry Partner(s): Net Balance
Details: Project Webpage

A Framework for Adaptive Extensible Personae for Interactive Toys

Year: 2008 - 2010
Grant: ARC Linkage LP0882013
Summary: This project will be of benefit in that it will facilitate the development of quality toys, based on sound psychological foundations. These toys will have a long life since they can be extended over time, growing with the child. There is also potential to be used for children with psychological difficulties, and applications in health and aged-care. This project will provide opportunities for Australian business, and will also help to keep Australia at the forefront in the area of intelligent agent technology. It is an example of a project that helps create a culture of innovation in Australian industry.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Lawrence Cavedon, Barbara Kelly, Fabio Zambetta, Bob Wesson, Carole Adam, Patrick Yeo
Industry Partner(s): Real Thing
Details: Project Webpage

Complex Decision Making in Intelligent Agents

Year: 2008 - 2010
Grant: ARC Linkage LP0882234
Summary: Following the work incorporating HTN planning into BDI systems, this project is concerned with in solving further problems, in particular in the areas of dynamic plan repair (or re-planning if necessary), more comprehensive planning techniques, and interactions between planning and other aspects of reasoning about goals and their achievement. These issues are extremely important for the kinds of complex autonomous decision making. For example it is certainly important for a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to be able to develop a plan to reach its intended destination. However, after some unplanned for event such as an Air Traffic Control instruction to alter course to avoid other traffic, it is critical that it can repair its plan to take account of the new situation. Failure to do this effectively could cause further conflicts or lead to dangerous outcomes. In doing this repair it must therefore take account of priorities and potential conflicts involving other goals. For example a goal to get back on course as quickly as possible may suggest one course of action, while a goal to avoid some restricted airspace may suggest something different. In addition, the situation that has arisen may require techniques borrowed from first principles planning, rather than the structured HTN style planning which we have currently used. The ability to use general-purposes reasoning and planning capabilities, integrated within the agent infrastructure, will enable complex applications to be built more rapidly, as well as being assured of being more robust. Not every detail needs to be programmed at the outset, as the system can fill the “gaps” automatically according to the circumstances. In addition, the specification of such systems would be more declarative, facilitating maintenance over time.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Andrew Lucas, Sebastian Sardina
Industry Partner(s): Agent Oriented Software
Details: Project Webpage

Acts of electronic negotiation: Overcoming communication barriers to transdisciplinary innovation in design

Year: 2006 - 2008
Grant: ARC Discovery DP0665744
Summary: Improved collaboration between the diverse contributors to design in the construction industry is urgently needed to reduce waste, streamline production and improve performance. It is also a key to better and more advanced design. The quality of human to human interaction in computer mediated environments is critical to the occurrence of innovation between design disciplines. This project will create a pool of highly qualified personnel in this area in Australia, including participating designers introduced to novel empowering approaches to network communication. It will develop and apply knowledge from other disciplines to developing tools for the design community.
Participants: Mark Burry, Lin Padgham, Mike Xie, Andrew Burrow

Service-oriented negotiation and coordination in multi-agent systems

Year: 2006 - 2009
Grant: ARC Discovery DP0663147
Summary: There is an increasing trend towards structuring software as a collection of autonomous entities that negotiate and coordinate. We propose to use the concept of Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA), proposed by management and political scientists, as a basis for negotiation. Expected outcomes from this work include a formalisation of BATNA, and a flexible agent negotiation and coordination framework that allows agents to use negotiation to deal with coordination breakdowns. An advantage of our proposed approach is that it avoids unrealistic assumptions, such as requiring all agents to be perfectly rational, or requiring excessive amounts of common knowledge.
Participants: Lin Padgham, James Harland, Michael Winikoff, Bao Quoc Vo

Planning and Learning in BDI Agents

Year: 2005 - 2007
Grant: ARC Linkage LP0560702
Summary: This project aims to increase the power and flexibility of one of the most popular and successful kinds of agents paradigms, known as BDI (Belief, Desire, Intention). By incorporating abilities to plan and to learn into BDI agent development platforms, agent systems built using this technology can be far more robust and flexible. If the system can adapt and learn new information or develop new plans after deployment, then not everything needs to be programmed at the start. Also these techniques can relieve the developer of some effort as the system can improve itself after deployment.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Andrew Lucas, Andy Song, Sebastian Sardina
Industry Partner(s): Agent Oriented Software
Details: Project Webpage

Advanced Software Engineering Support for Intelligent Agent Systems

Year: 2004 - 2006
Grant: ARC Linkage LP0453486
Summary: Software Agents are an important technology for developing the complex software systems that are increasingly required to meet the needs of society. A crucial obstacle to the widespread adoption of agent technology is the lack of an appropriate software engineering methodology. This project proposes to explore support for design processes addressing advanced issues in agent systems, such as goal-based requirements, debugging using design artefacts, component-based design, and reuse. We will also extend the methodology to support teamwork and open systems. We will be building on successful work we have already done in establishing a basic agent oriented software design methodology. This work builds on work done as part of the project Simplifying the Development of Agent Oriented Systems.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Michael Winikoff, Andrew Lucas (AOS), Andrew Hodgson (AOS), Liz Haywood
Industry Partner(s): Agent Oriented Software

Description, Composition, Discovery, and Deployment of Intelligent Agent Services

Year: 2004 - 2006
Grant: DEST IAP Grant CG040014
Summary: This project is participating in Satine (Semantic Based Interoperability Infrastructure for Integrating Web Service Platforms on Peer to Peer networks), a European Union 6th framework project (IST-1-002104-STP). Descriptions of some of the web services developed can be found at our testbed site. The World Wide Web is currently a major source of information for individuals, businesses and the public sector. The vision for future use of the WWW and the Internet, is that in addition to being a repository for static and dynamic informational pages, the Internet will also host a range of intelligent agents, offering services to both human users and to other intelligent agents. This will be an open and evolving system, where as new agents are added, other agents are able to locate them and to avail themselves of their services as appropriate. In order for this vision to be fully realised there are a wide range of technical issues which must be addressed. We will be working with international and Australian partners to explore issues in the areas of flexible and scalable distributed directory services, service description languages, and service composition and execution, while also developing and deploying agents in the area of tourism.

For more information see the DEST grant homepage and the internal project homepage (restricted).

Participants: Lin Padgham, Ian Mathieson, Michael Winikoff, James Harland, Liz Haywood
Industry Partner(s): Tourism Victoria, Australian Tourism Data Warehouse
Other Partner(s): Satine (EU 6th framework project), openNet, Wei Liu (UoWA)
Details: DEST grant homepage, Project Webpage

Open agent architectures for intelligent distributed decision making

Year: 2003 - 2005
Grant: ARC Linkage LP0347025
Summary: Sophisticated software systems are part of the essential infrastructure of our daily lives. Complex systems such as the internet, finance, or telecommunications software cannot have a centralised point of control or a single developer. The aim of this project is to develop an architecture and support infrastructure enabling intelligent agents to locate and use services in such open systems. The fundamental questions that must be addressed include issues such as how agents will find and use newly added services and how services will communicate with each other, given that they are developed independently.
Participants: Lin Padgham, Michael Winikoff, Sandy Dance (BoM), Ralph Rönnquist (AOS), Ian Mathieson, Aloys Mbala
Industry Partner(s): Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Agent Oriented Software
Details: BMRC linkage grant homepage, Project Webpage

Presentation of Complex Systems

Year: 2003 - 2005
Grant: ARC Discovery DP0346691
Summary: This project aims to enhance the understanding of multidimensional and multisensorial presentation environments. It will do this by developing a presentation system, driven by database information controlled by intelligent agent software, activating a dynamic visual and sonological environment, which is then evaluated in a variety of scenarios.
Participants: Mark Burry, Greg More, Lin Padgham, Ian Mathieson
Industry Partner(s): Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Agent Oriented Software
Details: Project Webpage

High Energy Physics: GRID

Year: 2003 - 2004
Grant: VPAC Enterprise Grant EPPNRM108.2003/121.2004
Summary: The analysis of HEP/EPP experiments such as BELLE and ATLAS involves complex filtering of vast amounts (potentially terabytes) of distributed and replicated data. Key problems in managing such DataGrid computations include locating appropriate datasets for the analysis, then scheduling and monitoring the progess of the distributed computations, where even the middleware support is experimental (and unreliable). This project explores the application of software agents to HEPGrid computations. For more information see the HEPGrid Agent homepage. The internal project homepage is restricted. In conjunction with the Experimental Particle Physics (EPP) group at The University of Melbourne as part of the HEPGrid project (EPPNME091.2003)).
Participants: Lin Padgham, Ian Mathieson, Tom Gamble, Antony Iorio, Wei Liu, Aman Sahani
Partner(s): University of Melbourne
Details: HEPGrid Agent homepage , Project Webpage

Flexible and Robust Protocol-Based Interaction between Agents in Open Systems

Year: 2002 - 2004
Grant: ARC Linkage LP0218928
Summary: There has been much discussion of the importance of software agents for supporting a wide variety of interaction between businesses and individuals over the internet. Important applications include ecommerce and b2b applications. For the potential of software agents to be realised in open systems, issues of flexibility, robustness, and extensibility are critical. This project addresses the development of flexible and powerful mechanisms for interaction, within the context of FIPA (Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents) standards. The project uses FIPA's Agentcities as a test bed, enabling us to build on and co-operate with a large European project starting mid 2001.
Participants: Lin Padgham, James Harland, Wei Liu, Kenichi Yoshimura, Aloys Mbala, Min Xu.
Industry Partner(s): Agent Oriented Software
Details: Project Webpage

Simplifying the Development of Agent Oriented Systems

Year: 2001 - 2003
Grant: ARC Spirit CO0106934
Summary: Design and programming of agents is a significantly different paradigm to either object-oriented programming or procedural programming. In this project we are investigating the key concepts necessary for effective agent design and implementation. We are developing a semantics suitable for understanding by an average programmer as well as development methodologies and tools. An initial methodology suitable for use with current BDI systems has been developed, along with supporting design templates and structures. This has been used in a number of workshop courses teaching agent-oriented design.
Participants: Lin Padgham, James Harland. Michael Winikoff, David Poutakidis, John Thangarajah, Anna Edberg, Christian Andersson
Industry Partner(s): Agent Oriented Software