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Cooperative information-gathering: a distributed problem-solving approach

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3 Author(s)
Oates, T. ; Dept. of Comput. & Sci., Massachusetts Univ., Amherst, MA, USA ; Nagendra Prasad, M.V. ; Lesser, V.R.

Two approaches to the problem of information-gathering, that may be characterised as distributed processing and distributed problem-solving, are contrasted. The former is characteristic of most existing information-gathering systems, and the latter is central to research in multi-agent systems. The features of complex information-carrying environments and the information-gathering task are examined, demonstrating both the utility of viewing information-gathering as distributed problem-solving and difficulties with viewing it as distributed processing. A new approach is proposed to information-gathering based on the distributed problem-solving paradigm and its attendant body of research in multi-agent systems and distributed artificial intelligence. This approach, called cooperative information-gathering, involves concurrent, asynchronous discovery and composition of information spread across a network of information servers. Top-level queries drive the creation of partially elaborated information-gathering plans, resulting in the employment of multiple semi-autonomous cooperative agents for the purpose of achieving goals and subgoals within those plans. The system as a whole satisfies, trading off solution quality and search cost while respecting user-imposed deadlines. Current work on distributed and agent-based approaches to information-gathering is also surveyed

Published in:

Software Engineering. IEE Proceedings- [see also Software, IEE Proceedings]  (Volume:144 ,  Issue: 1 )