Integration of Productmodel Databases into Multi-Agent Systems
This paper deals with two different agent-based approaches aimed at the incorporation of complex design information into multi-agent planning systems. The first system facilitates collaborative structural design processes, the second one supports fire engineering in buildings. Both approaches are part of two different research projects that belong to the DFG1 priority program 1103 entitled “Network-based Co-operative Planning Processes in Structural Engineering“ (DFG 2000). The two approaches provide similar database wrapper agents to integrate relevant design information into two multi-agent systems: Database wrapper agents make the relevant product model data usable for further agents in the multi-agent system, independent on their physical location. Thus, database wrapper agents act as an interface between multi-agent system and heterogeneous database systems. The communication between the database wrapper agents and other requesting agents presumes a common vocabulary: a specific database ontology that maps database related message contents into database objects. Hereby, the software-wrapping technology enables the various design experts to plug in existing database systems and data resources into a specific multi-agent system easily. As a consequence, dynamic changes in the design information of large collaborative engineering projects are adequately supported. The flexible architecture of the database wrapper agent concept is demonstrated by the integration of an XML and a relational database system.