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ELEC70071 Self-Organising Multi-Agent Systems

Lecturer(s): Prof Jeremy Pitt


The paradigm of self-organisation is fundamental to theories of collective action in economic science and democratic governance in political science. This module takes an innovative but systematic approach to transforming theories of economics and politics (and elements of philosophy, psychology, and jurisprudence) into an executable logical specification of conventional rules. It shows how sets of such rules, called institutions, provide an algorithmic basis for designing and implementing cyber-physical systems, enabling intelligent software processes (called agents) to manage themselves in the face of competition for scarce resources. It also points the way to implementing socio-technical systems for the Digital Society which are sustainable, fair and legitimate.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, you should be able to: 1. Analyse situations of coordination and strategic interaction in distributed systems of autonomous components (agents); 2. Account for basic concepts of computational agency, self-organisation, and the social construction of conceptual resources; 3. Design and operationalise systems which are regulated by mutually-agreed and mutable conventional rules; 4. Specify and implement algorithms for strategic decision-making related to action selection, preference selection, dispute resolution, opinion formation, and collective action; and 5. Create self-organised solutions to "social" problems in multi-agent systems, such as sustainability, fairness, knowledge management and legitimate self-governance.


Part 1: Foundations Agents & Multi-Agent Systems: BDI architecture, MAPE architecture, agent communication languages and protocols, institutionalised power, bounded rationality Self-Organisation & Self-Adaptation: autonomous systems, autonomic systems, dynamic norm-governed systems, evolutionary computing, complexity and stability Part 2: Strategic Interaction Game Theory: 2-player sequential games, dominant strategy, Nash Equilibrium, mechanism design, Evolutionary GT Social Choice Theory: voting rules and winner determination, manipulation, Arrow’s Theorem and other paradoxes Opinion Formation: opinion dynamics, social networks, social influence, leadership Institutions: electronic institutions, Ostrom’s principles, collective action, sustainability Part 3: Social Interaction Justice: distributive, retributive, procedural, interactional Exchange: conceptual resources: trust, forgiveness and social capital; gift economies, economies of esteem Knowledge: processes of aggregation, alignment and codification; knowledge commons Governance: constitutional choice, -archy and -ocracy, polycentricity, liberal democracy, basic democracy
Exam Duration: N/A
Exam contribution: 0%
Coursework contribution: 100%

Term: Autumn

Closed or Open Book (end of year exam): N/A

Coursework Requirement:
         Coursework only module

Oral Exam Required (as final assessment): N/A

Prerequisite module(s): None required

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