Applicability and Identified Benefits of Agent Technology - Implementation and Evaluation of an Agent System
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Agent oriented approaches are introduced with intention to facilitate software development in situations where other methods have shortcomings. Agents offer new possibilities and solutions to problems due to their properties and characteristics. Agent technology offer a high abstraction level and is therefore a more appropriate tool for making intelligent systems. Multi-agent systems are well suited in application areas with dynamic and challenging environments, and is advantageous in support for decision making and automation of tasks. Reduced coupling, encapsulation of functionality and a high abstraction level are some of the claimed benefits related to agent technology. Empirical studies are needed to investigate if agent technology is as good asasserted. This master thesis will give a deeper understanding of agent technology and benefits related to it. To investigate different aspects, an experiment was designed to reveal the applicability and the benefits. Two multi-agent systems were implemented and used as objects to be studied in the empirical study. As part of the investigation, a proper application area were chosen. The application area can be characterized as a scheduling problem with a dynamic and complex environment. Prometheus and JACK were used as development and modeling tools. Achieved experiences related to the development process will be presented in this report. The findings of the empirical study indicate reduced coupling and increased encapsulation of functionality. To achieve these benefits, the number of entities and functions had to be increased, and thus the number of code-lines. Further, the results indicate that more entities and lines of code will not have a significant influence on the development effort, due to the high abstraction level of agent technology.