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ESAW'03: Workshop Notes of the Fourth International Workshop "Engineering Societies in the Agents World", 29-31 October 2003, Imperial College London, UK

A. Omicini, Petta P., Pitt J. (eds.)

Software systems are undergoing dramatic changes in scale and complexity as we are moving rapidly into the age of micro-cosmic computing: from the planetary scale in which a single application can access the computing power and data resources of the entire world, to nanotech scale computing where a single location can be wired with millions of sensors. But at both ends of the scale, the computing devices (applications, sensors) interact with each other to provide us with increasingly complex, context-aware, and content-adaptive services and functionalities. There is therefore a strong qualitative impact on the nature, substance and style of interaction between components. These interactions will occur in patterns and via mechanisms that can hardly be grasped in terms of classical models of interaction or service-oriented coordination. To some extent, future software systems will exhibit characteristics making them more resemble natural systems and societies than of mechanical systems and traditional software architectures.

This situation poses exciting challenges to computer scientists and software engineers. Already, software agents and multi-agent systems are recognised as both useful abstractions and effective technologies for the modelling and building of complex distributed applications. However, little is done with regard to effective and methodical development of complex software systems in terms of multi-agent societies. An urgent need exists for novel approaches to software modelling and software engineering that can support the successful deployment of software systems made up of a massive number of autonomous components. We need to enable designers to control and predict the behaviour of their systems, but alternatively to enable emergent global system properties and discovered functionality to be commonplace. It is very likely that such innovations will exploit lessons from a variety of different scientific disciplines, such as sociology, economics, organisation science, modern thermodynamics, and biology. Furthermore, since these systems will be ubiquitous, persistent, and pervasive, i.e. embedded in the real world, we need to know what frameworks of law will facilitate their regulation.

The sequel to successful editions in 2000, 2001 and 2002, ESAW'03 remains committed to the use of the notion of multi-agent systems as seed for animated, constructive, and highly inter-disciplinary discussions about technologies, methodologies, and tools for the engineering of complex distributed applications. While the workshop places an emphasis on practical engineering issues, it also welcomes theoretical, philosophical, and empirical contributions, provided that they clearly document their connection to the core applied issues.

We received 34 papers that underwent strict scientific peer-review for quality, with at least three independent reviews per paper. In this process, ten papers were accepted. Given the large interdisciplinary spread of the topical domain, and the intention to exploit best the workshop as a forum for discussion and dissemination of significant and promising---if perhaps not yet fully developed---ideas and approaches, another 17 papers were invited for presentation at the workshop and are also included in these working notes. Based on previous experience, we are confident that at least for a number of these contributions the feedback from the workshop will both enable and motivate authors to improve their papers to have them included in the post-proceedings. As for the earlier workshop editions (LNAI 1972, LNAI 2203, and LNAI 2577), these will be published by Springer-Verlag as a volume of the Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence series.

Keywords: Multi-Agent Systems, Agent Oriented Software Engineering, Agent Societies

Citation: Omicini A., Petta P., Pitt J. (eds.): ESAW'03: Workshop Notes of the Fourth International Workshop "Engineering Societies in the Agents World", 29-31 October 2003, Imperial College London, UK. Technical Report, Österreichisches Forschungsinstitut für Artificial Intelligence, Wien, TR-2003-32, 2003