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Towards a Flexible Middleware Negotiation Facility for Distributed Components

Jean-Marc Andreoli, Stefania Castellani
In today's environment of global competition/cooperation, distributed organizations often have to federate into alliances in order to improve their ability to accomplish their customers'requests. Such alliances may establish very tight relationships between their members, as, for example, in the "supply chain" models. We are interested here in another kind of "business-to-business" alliances, defining only loose relations between peer, autonomous organizations, and allowing them to negotiate services, especially with a view to outsource work that they cannot perform alone. We are working on a platform that aims at providing support for the design of such alliances, letting their members flexibly negotiate services, make informed decisions and consistently enact contracts. The platform is built according to a multi-tier approach, where the lowest layers are concerned with pure communication issues between abstract entities (agents, objects, components) and the highest layers are concerned with the actual entities that form the application (ie. the alliance). In this paper, we focus on an intermediate layer, the "middleware" layer, which aims at addressing general, domain-independent requirements on the interaction infrastructure to support negotiation. In particular, we describe here the lowest part of the middleware, namely a communication protocol to be used in the implementation of multi-party, multi-attribute negotiation. We illustrate this protocol through an example in the domain of negotiations of print jobs across distributed printshops.
In Proc. of DEXA "E-Negotiations" workshop, Munich, September 5, 2001


Eneg2001.pdf (32.13 kB)