A Learning Algorithm for Agents in Electronic Marketplaces

Thomas Tran and Robin Cohen

In this paper, we propose a reputation oriented reinforcement learning algorithm for buying and selling agents in electronic market environments. We take into account the fact that multiple selling agents may offer the same good with different qualities. In our approach, buying agents learn to avoid the risk of purchasing low quality goods and to maximize their expected value of goods by dynamically maintaining sets of reputable sellers. Selling agents learn to maximize their expected profits by adjusting product prices and by optionally altering the quality of their goods. Modelling the reputation of sellers allows buying agents to focus on those sellers with whom a certain degree of trust has been established. We also include the ability for buying agents to optionally explore the marketplace in order to discover new reputable sellers. As detailed in the paper, we believe that our proposed strategy leads to improved satisfaction for buyers and sellers, reduced communication load, and robust systems. In addition, we outline some possible experimentation with an implementation of the algorithm, to determine its potential advantages.

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