Communicating Effectively in Resource-Constrained Multi-Agent Systems
Partha S. Dutta, Claudia V. Goldman, Nicholas R. Jennings
Agents with partial observability need to share information to achieve decentralised coordination. However, in resource-constrained systems, indiscriminate communication can create performance bottlenecks by consuming valuable bandwidth. Therefore, there is a tradeoff between the utility attained by communication and its cost. Here we address this tradeoff by developing a novel strategy to make communication selective based on information redundancy; ensuring communication only occurs when necessary, while maintaining acceptable coordination. We apply this strategy to a state-of-the-art communication protocol to evaluate its resource saving benefit in a distributed network routing problem. Furthermore, we design a mechanism to adapt its selectivity level to the prevailing resource constraints to ensure further improvements. Empirical studies show our selective strategy achieves relative savings in bandwidth usage of 50-90%, with only a 5-10% relative reduction in coordination effectiveness and the adaptive strategy further improves relative bandwidth usage by up to 10% and also relative coordination effectiveness by up to 12% over the non-adaptive approach.