TitleUsing similarity criteria to make issue trade-offs in automated negotiations
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsFaratin P, Sierra C, Jennings NR
JournalArtificial Intelligence

Automated negotiation is a key form of interaction in systems that are composed of multiple autonomous agents. The aim of such interactions is to reach agreements through an iterative process of making offers. The content of such proposals are, however, a function of the strategy of the agents. Here we present a strategy called the trade-off strategy where multiple negotiation decision variables are traded-off against one another (e.g., paying a higher price in order to obtain an earlier delivery date or waiting longer in order to obtain a higher quality service). Such a strategy is commonly known to increase the social welfare of agents. Yet, to date, most computational work in this area has ignored the issue of trade-offs, instead aiming to increase social welfare through mechanism design. The aim of this paper is to develop a heurístic computational model of the trade-off strategy and show that it can lead to an increased social welfare of the system. A novel linear algorithm is presented that enables software agents to make trade-offs for multi-dimensional goods for the problem of distributed resource allocation. Our algorithm is motivated by a number of real-word negotiation applications that we have developed and can operate in the presence of varying degrees of uncertainty. Moreover, we show that on average the total time used by the algorithm is linearly proportional to the number of negotiation issues under consideration. This formal analysis is complemented by an empirical evaluation that highlights the operational effectiveness of the algorithm in a range of negotiation scenarios. The algorithm iself operates by using the notion of fuzzy similarity to approximate the preference structure of the other negotiator and then uses a hill-climbing technique to explore the space of possible trade-offs for the one that is most likely to be acceptable.