The International Automated Negotiation Agents Competition (ANAC) is now in its tenth year of bringing together researchers from the negotiation community and spawning novel research in the field of autonomous agent design. Most recently, it was held at the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) in Macao in August of 2019, and Brown CS PhD student Enrique Areyan and Professor Amy Greenwald returned home with the second place award in the competition's Supply Chain Management League.
The goal of this particular league is to design and build an autonomous agent that acts as the virtual manager of a factory who needs to buy raw materials, turn them into finished products, and then sell them. The goal is to maximize profit given private production capabilities, but the challenge for the researchers is that all transactions happen via automated negotiations between autonomous artificial agents.
"Our agent," says Enrique, "takes inspiration from the newsvendor model, a classic model in operations research used to model the choice of an optimal inventory level for a perishable product (for example, a newspaper). Analogous to newsvendor models, our agent tries not to over-produce or under-produce during its planning horizon. The ideas is not to stock too many products, as any excess (whatever does not sell) will go to waste; but at the same time not stock too few, as any shortage will result in lost sales. The goal of our agent is to maximize its total expected profits over a finite time horizon, in the face of uncertain and non-stationary elastic demand."
The competition is returning again in 2020, and the SCML rules have been simplified so that agents can focus less on factory scheduling and production, which made up most of Enrique and Amy's focus in 2019, and more on agent negotiation strategies. The SCML 2020 game description can be found here.
More information about Enrique and Amy's agent is available here.
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communication and Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus.