Designing Conventions for Automated Negotiation

  • Jeffrey S. Rosenschein
  • Gilad Zlotkin


As distributed systems of computers play an increasingly important role in society, it will be necessary to consider ways in which these machines can be made to interact effectively. We are concerned with heterogeneous, distributed systems made up of machines that have been programmed by different entities to pursue different goals. Adjusting the rules of public behavior (the rules of the game) by which the programs must interact can influence the private strategies that designers set up in their machines. These rules can shape the design choices of the machines' programmers and, thus, the run-time behavior of their creations. Certain kinds of desirable social behavior can thus be caused to emerge through the careful design of interaction rules. Formal tools and analysis can help in the appropriate design of these rules. We consider how concepts from fields such as decision theory and game theory can provide standards to be used in the design of appropriate negotiation and interaction environments. This design is highly sensitive to the domain in which the interaction is taking place. This article is adapted from an invited lecture given by Jeffrey Rosenschein at the Thirteenth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Chambery, France, on 2 September 1993.