The problem we address
Negotiation is a pervasive aspect of everyday life, and it is not surprising that many approaches have been proposed to use computer software to support different forms of negotiation in a variety of collaborative applications, e.g. electronic trading, meeting scheduling and service matching. More generic forms of negotiation also exist in service discovery mechanisms, advanced transaction models, quality of service selection etc. While the approaches used make sense in the context of the applications for which they have been designed, they are hardly transportable across applications, and across architectural layers within an application. Given the pervasive nature of negotation, there is a strong need for a truely generic model of negotiation and a set of related tools that existing and future applications could rely on at multiple levels.
Project objectives and impact
The main objective of this project is to develop Xplore, a lightweight platform for distributed applications involving negotiation. This platform supports the coordination of distributed autonomous software components, each one of which may represent a negotiation participant. It incorporates a generic model of negotiation, derived from constraint propagation techniques. Xplore provides negotiation facilities at the middleware level, that various applications can rely on.
- Develop the Xplore distributed object infrastructure, including coordination engine and generic application-oriented components, around the concept of resource negotiation.
- Experimenting the platform through a number of applications and case studies.
- A natural domain of application for negotiation is e-commerce and business-2-business process support. In the E-Alliance project, a middleware coordination layer, based on an early version of Xplore, provides support for negotiation interactions within an alliance of printshops.
- Also, we are developing a negotiation-based infrastructure for providing flexible printing services in office environments.
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