Multi-Issue Negotiation with Deadlines

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This paper studies bilateral multi-issue negotiation between self-interested autonomous agents. Now, there are a number of different procedures that can be used for this process; the three main ones being the package deal procedure in which all the issues are bundled and discussed together, the simultaneous procedure in which the issues are discussed simultaneously but independently of each other, and the sequential procedure in which the issues are discussed one after another. Since each of them yields a different outcome, a key problem is to decide which one to use in which circumstances. Specifically, we consider this question for a model in which the agents have time constraints (in the form of both deadlines and discount factors) and information uncertainty (in that the agents do not know the opponent's utility function). For this model, we consider issues that are both independent and those that are interdependent and determine equilibria for each case for each procedure. In so doing, we show that the package deal is in fact the optimal procedure for each party. We then go on to show that, although the package deal may be computationally more complex than the other two procedures, it generates Pareto optimal outcomes (unlike the other two), it has similar earliest and latest possible times of agreement to the simultaneous procedure (which is better than the sequential procedure), and that it (like the other two procedures) generates a unique outcome only under certain conditions (which we define).

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