Logic and Computation
Advanced course


Department of Electronic Engineering, Queen Mary & Westfield College and

Department of Computation, Manchester Metropolitan University

First week
M.J.Wooldridge@qmw.ac.uk and M.Fisher@doc.mmu.ac.uk
Course description
The 1990s have seen the emergence and rapid growth fo a new paradigm in computer software development: agent-based systems. Agents are computer systems that are capable of flexible autonomous action in unpredictable, typically multi-agent environments. In this course, we introduce one of the most important traditions in the theory of agent systems, in which agents and agent societies are understood by attributing to them attitudes such as beliefs, desires, capabilities, intentions, and so on.The course is broadly divided into two parts. Part (i) begins by introducing the idea of agents as intentional systems: practical decision makers, reasoning from their beliefs, and desires, to the actions they perform in a multi-agent society. We go on to show individual attitudes such as belief can be formalised within a Kripke-style modal logic framework, and progressively introduce more complex concepts such as ability, the interaction of knowledge and action, and intention theory. Part (i) concludes with a longer case study, in which we introduce the currently influential belief-desire-intention (BDI) model of agency. In part (ii), we introduce the use of logic as a tool for designing and implementing agents. We focus, in particular, on multi-agent programming languages in which agents directly execute logical specifications of their intended behaviour. The course will conclude with a short survey of current and open issues in agent theory.
The course will assume no prior knowledge of agent theory of the (typically) modal logic that are used to formalise the properties of agents. It will, however, assume some general knowledge of artificial intelligence (such as the role of knowledge representation). A basic understanding of classical logic (syntax, semantics, and proof theory) would be helpful. The course will be primarily of value to those working in computer science or AI, who wish to gain an understanding of the theory of agency, but will also be of interst to philosophers and linguists with an interest in how the concept of agency is treated in AI and computer science. The course will be supported by extensive notes.
No specific recommendation