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Volume 15 / Issue 11

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-015-11-2254


Assessment of the Design Modularity and Stability of Multi-Agent System Product Lines

Camila Nunes (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Uirá Kulesza (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte - UFRN, Brazil)

Cláudio Sant'Anna (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil)

Ingrid Nunes (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Alessandro Garcia (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Carlos Lucena (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Abstract: A multi-agent system product line (MAS-PL) defines an architecture, whose design and implementation is accomplished using software agents to address its common and variable features. MAS-PL promotes the large-scale reuse of common and variable agency features across multiple MAS applications. The development of MAS-PLs can be achieved through MAS-specific platforms and implementation techniques, such as conditional compilation and aspect-oriented programming (AOP). However, there is not much evidence on how these techniques provide better modularity, allowing the conception of stable MAS-PL designs. This paper presents a quantitative study on the design modularity and stability of an evolving MAS-PL. The MAS-PL was built following the reactive product line adoption approach. The product line was developed and evolved based on several versions of a conference management web-based system, named Expert Committee (EC). Our evaluation is made through a series of change scenarios related to new agency features, which are agent characteristics that enhance the system with autonomous behavior. The quantitative study consists of a systematic comparison between two different versions of the EC MAS-PL based on a MAS-specific platform, called JADE. One version was implemented with object-oriented and conditional compilation techniques. The other one relied on AOP. Our analysis was driven by well-known modularity and change impact metrics.

Keywords: empirical software engineering, multi-agent systems, software metrics, software product lines

Categories: D.1.5, D.2.10, D.2.11, D.2.8