I have been working on issues associated with multi-agent coordination for over the 40 years when I built my first MAS system in 1978 that was a realistic simulation of an intelligent 3-agent distributed sensor network system (Distributed HS-II), where I first encountered issues of multi-agent coordination. I am still very excited about the issues associated with MAS coordination and think that they are still relevant to the field. I hope in this lecture to share some of my enthusiasm for the subject. I also feel it is a subject that is not really well understood by most multi-agent researchers. To establish some common ground, I will first discuss a quantitative view of coordination for large-grain sophisticated agents and then insights about coordination that I have learned from building countless multi-agent systems in a variety of application domains. I will end the lecture by discussing various research problems that I feel are important to answer for further work in this area to progress. I will describe a number of multi-agent coordination phenomenon empirically observed but not adequately explained and discuss possible hypotheses to explain them. I will also pose some questions that I feel are important but have not been seriously studied.
Victor Lesser received the Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1973. He is an Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Founding Director of the Multi-Agent Systems Laboratory in the College of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His major research focus is on the control and organization of complex AI systems. He has pioneered work in the development of the blackboard architecture and its control structure, approximate processing for use in control and real-time AI, self-aware control, and a wide variety of techniques for the coordination of and negotiation among multiple agents. He was the system architect for first fully developed blackboard architecture (HEARSAY-II), when he was a research computer scientist at CMU from 1972 thru 1976, and is considered one of the founders of the Multi-Agent field starting with his early work in 1978. He has also made contributions in the areas of machine learning, signal understanding, diagnostics, plan recognition, and computer-supported cooperative work. He has worked in application areas such as sensor networks for vehicle tracking and weather monitoring, speech and sound understanding, information gathering on the internet, peer-to-peer information retrieval, intelligent user interfaces, distributed task allocation and scheduling, and virtual agent enterprises. In terms of statistics, he has published over 500 papers, graduated 36 PhD students, and based on Google Scholar his citation count is over 26,500, h-index is 80 and i10-index is 287.
Professor Lesser's research accomplishments have been recognized by many major awards over the years. He received the IJCAI-09 Award for Research Excellence, the most prestigious award in AI. He is also a Founding Fellow of AAAI and an IEEE Fellow. He was General Chair of the first international conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS) in 1995, and Founding President of the International Foundation of Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (IFAAMAS). In 2007, to honor his contributions to the field of multi-agent systems, IFAAMAS established the “Victor Lesser Distinguished Dissertation Award.” He also received a Special Recognition Award for his foundational research in generalized coordination technologies from the Information Processing Technology Office at DARPA.