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Agents are becoming one of the most important topics in distributed and autonomous decentralized systems, and there are increasing attempts to use agent technologies to develop large-scale commercial and industrial software systems. The complexity of such systems suggests a pressing need for system modeling techniques to support reliable, maintainable, and extensible design. G-nets are a type of Petri net defined to support system modeling in terms of a set of independent and loosely-coupled modules. In this paper, we customize the basic G-net model to define a so-called "agent-based G-net" that can serve as a generic model for agent design. Then, to progress from an agent-based design model to an agent-oriented model, new mechanisms to support inheritance modeling are introduced. To illustrate our formal modeling technique for multiagent systems, an example of an agent family in electronic commerce is provided. Finally, we demonstrate how we can use model checking to verify some key behavioral properties of our agent model. This is facilitated by the use of an existing Petri net tool.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2003