Top-down vs bottom-up methodologies in multi-agent system design

2016-10-11 04:23
Title: Top-down vs bottom-up methodologies in multi-agent system design

Published In: Autonomous Robots April 2008, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 303–313

Authors: Valentino Crespi, Aram Galstyan, Kristina Lerman

Traditionally, two alternative design approaches have been available to engineers: top-down and bottom-up. In the top-down approach, the design process starts with specifying the global system state and assuming that each component has global knowledge of the system, as in a centralized approach. The solution is then decentralized by replacing global knowledge with communication. In the bottom-up approach, on the other hand, the design starts with specifying requirements and capabilities of individual components, and the global behavior is said to emerge out of interactions among constituent components and between components and the environment. In this paper we present a comparative study of both approaches with particular emphasis on applications to multi-agent system engineering and robotics. We outline the generic characteristics of both approaches from the MAS perspective, and identify three elements that we believe should serve as criteria for how and when to apply either of the approaches. We demonstrate our analysis on a specific example of load balancing problem in robotics. We also show that under certain assumptions on the communication and the external environment, both bottom-up and top-down methodologies produce very similar solutions.