A Learning-driven Approach for Behavior Modeling in Agent-based Simulation

Sammanfattning: Agent-based simulation is a prominent application of the agent-based system metaphor. One of the main characteristics of this simulation paradigm is the generative nature of the outcome: the macro-level system behavior is generated from the micro-level agent behavior. Designing this agent behavior becomes challenging, as it is not clear how much each individual agent will contribute to the macro-level phenomenon in the simulation.Agent learning has proven to be successful for behavior configuration and calibration in many domains. It can also be used to mitigate the design challenge here. Agents learn their behaviors, adapted towards their micro and some macro level goals in the simulation. However, machine learning techniques that in principle could be used in this context usually constitute black-boxes, to which the modeler has no access to understand what was learned.This thesis proposes an engineering method for developing agent behavior using agent learning. The focus of learning hereby is not on improving performance, but in supporting a modeling endeavor: the results must be readable and explainable to and by the modeler. Instead of pre-equipping the agents with a behavior program, a model of the behavior is learned from scratch within a given environmental model.The following are the contributions of the research conducted: a) a study of the general applicability of machine learning as means to support agent behavior modeling: different techniques for learning and abstracting the behavior learned were reviewed; b) the formulation of a novel engineering method encapsulating the general approach for learning behavior models: MABLe (Modeling Agent Behavior by Learning); c) the construction of a general framework for applying the devised method inside an easy-accessible agent-based simulation tool; d) evaluating the proposed method and framework.This thesis contributes to advancing the state-of-the-art in agent-based simulation engineering: the individual agent behavior design is supported by a novel engineering method, which may be more adapted to the general way modelers proceed than others inspired by software engineering.

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