An Evaluation of Communication Protocol Languages for Engineering Multiagent Systems

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Amit K Chopra
Samuel H Christie V
Munindar P. Singh


Communication protocols are central to engineering decentralized multiagent systems. Modern protocol languages are typically formal and address aspects of decentralization, such as asynchrony. However, modern languages differ in important ways in their basic abstractions and operational assumptions. This diversity makes a comparative evaluation of protocol languages a challenging task.

We contribute a rich evaluation of diverse and modern protocol languages. Among the selected languages, Scribble is based on session types; Trace-C and Trace-F on trace expressions; HAPN on hierarchical state machines, and BSPL on information causality. Our contribution is four-fold. One, we contribute important criteria for evaluating protocol languages. Two, for each criterion, we compare the languages on the basis of whether they are able to specify elementary protocols that go to the heart of the criterion. Three, for each language, we map our findings to a canonical architecture style for multiagent systems, highlighting where the languages depart from the architecture. Four, we identify design principles for protocol languages as guidance for future research.

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