On the Testability of BDI Agent Systems

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Abstract

Before deploying a software system we need to assure ourselves (and stakeholders) that the system will behave correctly. This assurance is usually done by testing the system. However, it is intuitively obvious that adaptive systems, including agent-based systems, can exhibit complex behaviour, and are thus harder to test. In this paper we examine this "obvious intuition" in the case of Belief-Desire-Intention (BDI) agents. We analyse the size of the behaviour space of BDI agents and show that although the intuition is correct, the factors that influence the size are not what we expected them to be. Specifically, we found that the introduction of failure handling had a much larger effect on the size of the behaviour space than we expected. We also discuss the implications of these findings on the testability of BDI agents.

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