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A Framework for Automated Negotiation

Bartolini, Claudio; Preist, Chris

HPL-2001-90

Keyword(s): automated negotiation; electronic marketplaces; business-to-business e-commerce; negotiation protocols; auctions; software framework

Abstract: Negotiation has been a central subject of study in disciplines such as economics, game theory, and management for decades. With the increasing importance of business-to-business electronic trading, the interest in automated negotiation and to the production of enabling software infrastructure has soared. Existing approaches to architecting software enabling automated negotiation provide either ad-hoc software for particular market mechanisms or proprietary solutions. We want to take an approach that is general with respect to a wide variety of market mechanisms, from one-to-one negotiation to auctions and double auctions. At the same time we take an open system approach by defining a standard protocol for interaction among the participants to the negotiation process that is parametric with respect to the negotiation rules embodying the particular market mechanism that the negotiation host chooses to impose. The generality of this approach allows us to provide value to all the actors in a negotiation process. Its value to the negotiation participants is that it provides support to the automation of the negotiation process, and hence makes the process more efficient. Furthermore, they can be confident that the basic rules of interaction in any negotiation are standardised, hence reducing the effort to automate many different kinds of business interactions. Moreover, the protocols provide the participants with trust guarantees, that no party has access to extra information or is able to forge false information. Its value to negotiation hosts such as auction houses and market makers is that it provides a standard framework that all potential customers can use to interact with them. However, it does not require a specific market mechanism, so allows the host to decide on an appropriate one. It provides standard off-the-shelf market mechanisms, but also allows custom mechanisms to be implemented for particular special needs.

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