Multi-Agent Systems and Complexity

Complexity, Science and Society Conference

Session on Multi-Agent Systems and Complexity:
Wednesday 14 September 2005

Call for Participation

Liverpool will be the host for an exciting conference on Complexity, Science and Society between 11-14 September 2005. One session planned for this conference will be devoted to Multi-Agent Systems and Complexity.

Location: All the sessions of the conference will be held in the Sherrington Building and the Foresight Centre, on the University of Liverpool's main campus precinct. These are buildings 25 and 97-99 (respectively) on the campus map. This part of campus is about 15-20 minutes walk east from Lime Street Station (the main inter-city station in Liverpool), up the street called Brownlow Hill. Note that the orientation of the campus map places North on the left-hand side.

A map of the locality is here. If this link fails, type the University postcode "L69 3BX" into the database.

Areas of Interest

Agent models have long been applied in economics and the social sciences as models of complex phenomena. In recent years, the design and study of systems of software agents has arisen in Computer Science, where it promises to change the prevailing object-oriented paradigm in software engineering (see: Luck, McBurney and Preist 2003, Zambonelli and Parunak 2003). Such agent models treat the individual agents as intelligent, autonomous entities engaged in purposeful interaction with one another, and study both the decision-making processes of the individual agents and the mechanisms for interaction between them. This deeply theoretical and very applied work in Computer Science has created the possibility of significantly more sophisticated multi-agent computer models of real-world complex, adaptive systems.

Conversely, it is possible to conceive of complex computational systems, such as the Internet, as systems of interacting, intelligent agents. The design, management and control of these systems may therefore benefit from learnings in the social and physical sciences regarding complex, adaptive systems. Several major computer hardware vendors have recently announced initiatives in which these ideas figure prominently: HP's utility computing, IBM's on demand computing, and Sun's N1 systems.

This conference session aims to explore these ideas from both directions: multi-agent systems (MAS) as models of complex phenomena, and complex computational systems viewed as systems of interacting agents. Because both threads involve several theoretical and applied disciplines, the session hopes to generate multi-disciplinary conversations, debate and exchange.

Topics of possible interest include (but are not limited to):

  • Designing multi-agent societies as models of complex, adaptive systems

  • Calibration of multi-agent system models against real world systems

  • Management and control of complex, adaptive systems

  • The impact of agent intelligence on system design and control.

Any and all perspectives will be welcome on these questions: philosphical, methodological, mathematical and computational. Moreover, applications in any domain are welcome: e.g., social, physical or biological sciences, public policy, busines strategy, marketing, etc.

Provisional Programme

Wednesday 14.09.05

0900: Session Opens

0900 - 1000: "A General Methodology for Designing Self-Organizing Systems"
Invited Talk
Carlos Gershenson
Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Group
Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium

1000 - 1015: "Pensajistan: Towards the use of the game like model of social systems"
Nelson Leonardo Lammoglia
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Columbia

1015 - 1045: Coffee Break

1045 - 1110: "Applying biologically-inspired agents to complex domains"
Paul Marrow
Pervasive ICT Research Centre
British Telecom, UK

1110 - 1135: "Cooperative self-organizing mechanisms for designing complex adapative systems"
Jean-Pierre George, Marie-Pierre Gleizes and Pierre Glize
Universite Paul Sabatier
Toulouse, France

1135 - 1200: "Multilevel multidimensional structure in multi-agent robot football systems".
Jeffrey Johnson and Pejman Iravani
Department of Design and Innovation
The Open University
Milton Keynes, UK

1200 - 1400: Lunch

1400 - 1515: Plenary Session

1515 - 1545: Coffee

1545 - 1610: "An emergent macrodynamics of financial fragility and instability in a multi-agent system"
Gilbert Tadeu Lima and Gustavo Gomes de Freitas
Department of Economics
University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

1610 - 1635: "Marketing in Systemic Turbulence (MIST): an agent-based simulation"
Peter November
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
New Zealand

1635 - 1655: "The philosophical issues of utilising agent-based modelling in social sciences"
Elisa Vuori
Tampere University of Technology
Tampere, Finland

1650 - 1715: "Discussion on ontological and epistemological questions of agent-based modelling in the context of an organisation population"
Mirva Peltoniemi
Institute of Business Information Managament
Tampere University of Technology
Tampere, Finland

1715: Session Ends

Participation and Publication

Intending participants are requested to submit a short (500-1000 word) statement of research interests. Participants may present a long paper (20-30 minutes), a short statement of research interests (5-10 minutes) or a system demonstration (15 minutes). Participants wishing to submit a long paper will be required to complete a draft version of this 5 weeks before the Conference, so that it can be included in the informal session proceedings at the Conference.

Participants wishing to present papers are asked to complete the Paper Presentation Form by 1 April 2005. This form is available in both MS WORD and PDF format.

It is currently planned that papers arising from the session will be published subsequently in a refereed forum, such as a journal special issue or an edited volume. An open invitation will be made to participants and others to submit a paper for post-conference publication in this forum. The arrangements and formatting instructions for post-conference publication will be announced following negotiations with appropriate publishers.

Session Organization

It is planned to organize the session around 2 or 3 themes, which will be selected on the basis of the interests of the participants. Thus, the themes will only be finalized following receipt of the Expressions of Interest. Each theme will include a mix of long and short presentations, and (if relevant) system demonstrations.

Programme Committee

Confirmed members of the Programme Committee:

Important Dates (Tentative)


M. Luck, P. McBurney and C. Preist [2003]: Agent Technology: Enabling Next Generation Computing. A Roadmap for Agent Based Computing. AgentLinkII, the European Network of Excellence for Agent-Based Computing, Southampton, UK.

F. Zambonelli and V. D. Parunak [2003]: "Sign of a revolution in computer science and software engineering." In: P. Petta, R. Tolksdorf and F. Zambonelli (Editors): Engineering Societies in the Agents' World. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, volume 2577. Berlin, Germany: Springer, 2003.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Peter McBurney
Department of Computer Science
University of Liverpool
Liverpool L69 3BX

Email: p.j.mcburney -at-

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© 2004 Peter McBurney