Challenges for exception handling in multi-agent systems

Eric Platon*, Nicolas Sabouret, Shinichi Honiden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Citations (Scopus)


Exception handling has a commonly agreed semantics in many programming languages. When an operation is called with inappropriate conditions, the control flow of the program is reversed back to the caller to trigger some handling mechanisms. In Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), this semantics applies to the code of agents, but it does not cover the kind of exceptions that occur at the agent level. For instance, the usual handling semantics does not address the cases where the plan of an agent fails and re-planning is required. In fact, the agent code does not necessarily encounter a programming fault or a 'catch' clause in such a case, but the agent has yet to deal with an exceptional situation. In this paper, we survey the literature on exception handling with the aim to demonstrate that research needs to be conducted in the case of MAS due to their openness, heterogeneity, and the encapsulation of agents. We identify research directions from the survey, and we present a simulation scenario to illustrate the occurrence of agent-level exceptions in a simple case. The current result of the survey analysis is that agent exceptions mechanisms should rely on the proactivity of agents, on exploiting the agent environment, on collaborative handling mechanisms, and on the potential links between code-level and agent-level exceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoftware Engineering for Multi-Agent Systems V - Research Issues and Practical Applications
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9783540731306
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event5th Workshop on Software Engineering for Large-Scale Multi-Agent Systems, SELMAS 2006 - Shanghai, China
Duration: 2006 May 12006 May 1

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume4408 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other5th Workshop on Software Engineering for Large-Scale Multi-Agent Systems, SELMAS 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)


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