Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Computer Science

Advisor's Name

Xudong He

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Shu-Ching Chen

Advisor's Name

Peter J. Clarke

Advisor's Name

Malek Adjouadi

Keywords

Formal Methods, Petri Nets, Multi-Agent Systems, Agent-Oriented Modeling

Date of Defense

1-25-2011

Abstract

In the past two decades, multi-agent systems (MAS) have emerged as a new paradigm for conceptualizing large and complex distributed software systems. A multi-agent system view provides a natural abstraction for both the structure and the behavior of modern-day software systems. Although there were many conceptual frameworks for using multi-agent systems, there was no well established and widely accepted method for modeling multi-agent systems. This dissertation research addressed the representation and analysis of multi-agent systems based on model-oriented formal methods. The objective was to provide a systematic approach for studying MAS at an early stage of system development to ensure the quality of design.

Given that there was no well-defined formal model directly supporting agent-oriented modeling, this study was centered on three main topics: (1) adapting a well-known formal model, predicate transition nets (PrT nets), to support MAS modeling; (2) formulating a modeling methodology to ease the construction of formal MAS models; and (3) developing a technique to support machine analysis of formal MAS models using model checking technology. PrT nets were extended to include the notions of dynamic structure, agent communication and coordination to support agent-oriented modeling. An aspect-oriented technique was developed to address the modularity of agent models and compositionality of incremental analysis. A set of translation rules were defined to systematically translate formal MAS models to concrete models that can be verified through the model checker SPIN (Simple Promela Interpreter).

This dissertation presents the framework developed for modeling and analyzing MAS, including a well-defined process model based on nested PrT nets, and a comprehensive methodology to guide the construction and analysis of formal MAS models.

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