David Lillis: Evaluation of a Conversation Management Toolkit for Multi Agent Programming

Evaluation of a Conversation Management Toolkit for Multi Agent Programming

David Lillis, Rem W. Collier and Howell R. Jordan

In M. Dastani, J. F. Hübner, and B. Logan, editors, Programming Multi-Agent Systems - 10th International Workshop, ProMAS 2012, Valencia, Spain, June 5, 2012, Revised Selected Papers, volume 7837, pages 90--107. Springer Verlag Heidelberg, 2013.


The Agent Conversation Reasoning Engine (ACRE) is intended to aid agent developers to improve the management and reliability of agent communication. To evaluate its effectiveness, a problem scenario was created that could be used to compare code written with and without the use of ACRE by groups of test subjects. This paper describes the requirements that the evaluation scenario was intended to meet and how these motivated the design of the problem. Two experiments were conducted with two separate sets of students and their solutions were analysed using a combination of simple objective metrics and subjective analysis. The analysis suggested that ACRE by default prevents some common problems arising that would limit the reliability and extensibility of conversation-handling code. As ACRE has to date been integrated only with the Agent Factory multi agent framework, it was necessary to verify that the problems identified are not unique to that platform. Thus a comparison was made with best practice communication code written for the Jason platform, in order to demonstrate the wider applicability of a system such as ACRE.