Distributed norm management for multi-agent systems

W. W. Vasconcelos, A. García-Camino, D. Gaertner, J. A. Rodríguez-Aguilar, P. Noriega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Norms explicitly represent prohibitions, permissions and obligations associated with software agents, changing as agents act and interact in pursuit of their goals. Norms provide means of regulating open and heterogeneous multi-agent systems; however, in order to truly reflect the nature of multi-agent systems, norms should be managed in a distributed fashion. A centralized account of norms creates a single point-of-failure and bottlenecks, and as a result fault-tolerance and scalability are jeopardized. The decentralized management of norms is, nevertheless, a challenging issue and we observe a lack of truly distributed computational realizations of normative models. To remedy this, we propose normative structures, which allow the propagation of changes in the norms associated with agents, as a result of their actions. Due to the dynamic nature of multi-agent systems and the potential concurrency of agents' actions, conflicts may arise, whereby an action is simultaneously prohibited and obliged (or prohibited and permitted). We thus present a run-time algorithm to detect and resolve conflicts during the enactment of a multi-agent system, and show how this algorithm can be put to use within a distributed setup.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5990-5999
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
Issue number5
Early online date8 Dec 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • norm
  • software agents
  • normative conflicts
  • multi-agent systems


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