10 Multiagent Systems

Imagine a personal software agent engaging in electronic commerce on your behalf. Say the task of this agent is to track goods available for sale in various online venues over time, and to purchase some of them on your behalf for an attractive price. In order to be successful, your agent will need to embody your preferences for products, your budget, and in general your knowledge about the environment in which it will operate. Moreover, the agent will need to embody your knowledge of other similar agents with which it will interact (e.g., agents who might compete with it in an auction, or agents representing store owners) - including their own preferences and knowledge. A collection of such agents forms a multiagent system.

- Yoav Shoham and Kevin Leyton-Brown [[Shoham and Leyton-Brown (2008)], page xvii]

What should an agent do when there are other agents, with their own values, who are also reasoning about what to do? An intelligent agent should not ignore other agents or treat them as noise in the environment. We consider the problems of determining what an agent should do given a mechanism that specifies how the world works, and of designing a mechanism that has useful properties.