Experiments in Indirect Negotiation

H. Van Dyke Parunak, Robert Savit, Sven A. Brueckner, and John Sauter

The purpose of negotiation is to enable agents to coordinate their actions. Characterizing coordination in informationtheoretic terms leads us to consider negotiation in the context of other processes that can transfer information among agents, such as those mediated by the environment. We illustrate these concepts using the Minority Game, an abstract model of resource allocation that achieves coordination without negotiation in the classical sense. Our work illustrates two important lessons. 1) Indirect (environmentally-mediated) negotiation can achieve agent coordination even without conventional negotiation. 2) The information flow between agents and the environment is likely to affect the dynamics of systems even when they use more conventional negotiation.

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