Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Multiagent Business Modeling
by Telang, Pankaj Ramesh, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 2013, 194; 3575893
Abstract (Summary)

Cross-organizational business processes are common in today’s economy. Of necessity, enterprises conduct their business in cooperation to create products and services for the marketplace. Thus business processes inherently involve autonomous partners with heterogeneous software designs and implementations. The existing business modeling approaches that employ high-level abstractions are difficult to operationalize, and the approaches that employ low-level abstractions lead to highly rigid processes that lack business semantics. We propose a novel business model based on multiagent abstractions. Unlike existing approaches, our model gives primacy to the contractual relationships among the business partners, thus providing a notion of business-level correctness, and offers flexibility to the participants. Our approach employs reusable patterns as building blocks to model recurring business scenarios. A step-by-step methodology guides a modeler in constructing a business model. Our approach employs temporal logic to formalize the correctness properties of a business model, and model checking to verify if a given operationalization satisfies those properties. Developer studies found that our approach yields improved model quality compared to the traditional approaches from the supply chain and healthcare domains.

Commitments capture how an agent relates with another agent, whereas goals describe states of the world that an agent is motivated to bring about. It makes intuitive sense that goals and commitments be understood as being complementary to each other. More importantly, an agent’s goals and commitments ought to be coherent, in the sense that an agent’s goals would lead it to adopt or modify relevant commitments and an agent’s commitments would lead it to adopt or modify relevant goals. However, despite the intuitive naturalness of the above connections, they have not yet been studied in a formal framework. This dissertation provides a combined operational semantics for goals and commitments. Our semantics yields important desirable properties, including convergence of the configurations of cooperating agents, thereby delineating some theoretically well-founded yet practical modes of cooperation in a multiagent system.

We formalize the combined operational semantics of achievement commitments and goals in terms of hierarchical task networks (HTNs) and show how HTN planning provides a natural representation and reasoning framework for them. Our approach combines a domain-independent theory capturing the lifecycles of goals and commitments, generic patterns of reasoning, and domain models. We go beyond existing approaches by proposing a first-order representation that accommodates settings where the commitments and goals are templatic and may be applied repeatedly with differing bindings for domain objects. Doing so not only leads to a more perspicuous modeling, it also enables us to support a variety of practical patterns.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Singh, Munindar P.
Commitee: Doyle, Jon, Hodgson, Thom J., Madden, John F., Murphy-Hill, Emerson, Xie, Tao
School: North Carolina State University
Department: Computer Science
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-B 75/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Information science, Computer science
Keywords: Business modeling, Commitments, Goals, Model-checking sequence diagrams, Operational semantics of commitments
Publication Number: 3575893
ISBN: 9781303549076