Understanding the Emergence of Conventions in Multi-Agent Systems

Adam Walker and Michael Wooldridge

In this paper, we investigate techniques via which a group of autonomous agents can reach a global agreement on the use of social conventions by using only locally available information. Such conventions play a central role in naturally-occurring social systems, and there are good masons tbr supposing that they will play a similarly important role in artificial social systems. Following a short review of conventions and their use in distributed artificial intelligence, we present a formal model that rigorously defines both our experimental methodology, and the performance measures we use to quantify the success of our experiments. We then describe sixteen different mechanisms for bringing about agreement on conventions, and present experimental results obtained for each of these methods. A tentative analysis of these results is given, and the paper concludes with some comments and issues for future work.

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