Towards Argumentation as Distributed Constraint Satisfaction

Hyuckchul Jung and Milind Tambe

Conflict resolution is a critical problem in distributed and collaborative multi-agent systems. Negotiation via argumentation (NVA), where agents provide explicit arguments (justifications) for their proposals to resolve conflicts, is an effective approach to resolve conflicts. Indeed, we are applying argumentation in some real-world multi-agent applications. However, a key problem in such applications is that a well-understood computational model of argumentation is currently missing, making it difficult to investigate convergence and scalability of argumentation techniques, and to understand and characterize different collaborative NVA strategies in a principled manner. To alleviate these difficulties, we present distributed constraint satisfaction problem (DCSP) as a computational model for NVA. We model argumentation as constraint propagation in DCSP. This model enables us to study convergence properties of argumentation, and formulate and experimentally compare two sets of 16 different NVA strategies (over 30 strategies in all) with different levels of agent cooperativeness towards others. One surprising result from our experiments is that maximizing cooperativeness is not necessarily the best strategy even in a completely cooperative environment. In addition to their usefulness in understanding computational properties of argumentation, these results could also provide new heuristics for speeding up DCSPs.


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