Matchmaking and Brokering

Keith Decker, Mike Williamson, and Katia Sycara

One of the basic problems facing designers of open, multi-agent systems for the Internet is the connection problem-- finding the other agents who might have the information or other capabilities that you need. Matchmaking and brokering behaviors are both common in the literature. Matchmaking refers to the act of providing a capability-addressable name service or "ydlow pages". A requestor is free to choose any po-tential server using any of several criteria. Brokering refers to the act of an agent (the broker) taking on a request, choosing server or servers, and eventually providing the result. We show that brokers provide a much simpler load balancing mech-anism, but can more easily become single points of failure, require more commitments on the part of servers, and in an open system need to work with a matchmaking/yellow pages service anyway. We have defined these behaviors in terms of simpler request actions because the semantics of requests are well-understood and allow us to easily compose hybrid sys-tems with both matchmakers and brokers.

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