Jorge Dias Fernandes
Expedita / UMA, Funchal
Rua da Sé, Nº2 - 4º Andar
9000 FUNCHAL, PORTUGAL
Tel. +351 91 238289, Fax +351 91 224897
For many years the agent technology has been developed in a theoretic level and in closed systems
(workbenches, simulators). Today, due to the evolution from the Internet relatedtechnologies and the dawn of
languages like JAV, we are dealing with a growing number of developing tools (libraries, services) that allow us
to deploy working multi-agent systems into the bussiness market. Systems were agents are able to comunicate
between themselves and with the human users, and sometimes even navigate between diferent computers.
Stiil, there are some issues that separate these toolsfrom a total integration with the organisations information
systems. Namely, an explicit knowledge from the agents about the organisational structure and data, and
development tools to design the agent society in accordance with the human organisation.
Our present work intends to consolidate in multi-agent societies the concept of collective agent and of agent
organisations. For that goal wehave developed a methodology that allows us to model an organisation both at
an informal and a formal level. From this model is then possible to implement a multi -agent society that reflects
the analysed organisational structure.
W ith this paper we intend to bridge the gap between the area of multi -agent systems and areas like System
Analysis, Management, or Operational Research. It'scontent include an introduction to the Beer Viable System
Model and it's application in modelling artificial agent societies. At the end we present a case study and show
how agents can be used to help the day-to-day work in a company.
Looking closely to some of the best-succeeded applications of multi-agent systems available today, we can
distinguish two different areas of use.First, the ability to work autonomous and execute simple tasks, like
search and classification. Second, the ability to communicate and negotiate for information acquisition and task
delegation. Simple and mechanical tasks executed repeatedly in any organisation, consuming resources and
worker’s time, and that can be easily implemented using the agent’s abilities. For these reasons, in the nextfew
years we expect that many agent-oriented applications will be available for immediate use. However, for the
agent technology to be used in complex decision support systems and successfully integrated in an
organisation Information system, the technological development is not enough. There are some concepts in the
organisations structure and functionality that must be integrated in the multi-agent systems development
W ith the work presented in this paper we intended to bring closer the development of Multi -agent Societies and
the development of Organisation Information Systems. Namely in the organisation structure analysis and in the
system specification phase. The core of the work relies in a definition of the concept of Agent Organisation.
The concept oforganisation is well spread in human societies and it is quite intuitive that when four or more
persons have to achieve a goal together they end up f orming an organisation that is suitable for that task
(obviously, this number depends on the complexity of the goal). Authors working in areas related to human
organisations ([pôr referências]) defend that there is a point where working together implies aneed for an
explicit organisation. Only through this structure, the results of their work can be maximised and "the all be
more than just the sum of the parts". This is due, not only to the fact that each person knows exactly what are
the tasks his responsible for, but also because the person responsible for assigning those tasks can perform a
better analyse of the situation.