Formalising collaborative decision-making and practical reasoning in multi-agent systems

P. Panzarasa, N. R. Jennings, Timothy J Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we present an abstract formal model of decision-making in a social setting that covers all aspects of the process, from recognition of a potential for cooperation through to joint decision. In a multi-agent environment, where self-motivated autonomous agents try to pursue their own goals, a joint decision cannot be taken for granted. In order to decide effectively, agents need the ability to (a) represent and maintain a model of their own mental attitudes, (b) reason about other agents' mental attitudes, and (c) influence other agents' mental states. Social mental shaping is advocated as a general mechanism for attempting to have an impact on agents' mental states in order to increase their cooperativeness towards a joint decision, Our approach is to specify a novel, high-level architecture for collaborative decision-making in which the mentalistic notions of belief, desire, goal, intention, preference and commitment play a central role in guiding the individual agent's and the group's decision-making behaviour. We identify preconditions that must be fulfilled before collaborative decision-making can commence and prescribe how cooperating agents should behave, in terms of their own decision-making apparatus and their interactions with others, when the decision-making process is progressing satisfactorily. The model is formalized through a new, many-sorted, multi-modal logic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-117
Number of pages62
JournalJournal of Logic and Computation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2002


  • multi-agent systems
  • BDI logic
  • joint mental attitudes
  • inter-agent social behaviour


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