Institute of High Performance Computing

navigation

Powerding Discoveries!

Research

----

Computing Science (CS)

   

Electronic Negotiations

ELECTRONIC NEGOTIATIONS

Bargaining and negotiation take place in many facets in our everyday life. For example, a housewife bargains for price of potatoes in web market; procurement managers negotiate with sale representatives for factory equipments; a job candidate negotiates benefits and salary terms with a recruitment manager. Besides wide manifestation in social and business settings, some other forms of negotiations, in areas of international peace negotiations and hostage crisis management, are often more time-pressuring and critical. Among all the facets, parties in negotiations share common characteristics in terms of the need for competing to maximize self interests yet to cooperating for common agreement. The negotiation problem has long been a subject of study in many disciplines by economist, psychologists and organization theorists. Success in negotiation was once considered an art, based on “interpersonal skills, the ability to convince and to be convinced, the ability to employ a basketful of bargaining ploys, and the wisdom to know when and how to use them” [1, p. 8]. Since the 1960s, when computer models were first employed for the support of human decision making, interest has been growing in the possibility of using computer technology to support negotiations. Rather than considering negotiation as an “art”, computer-based negotiations stress a “scientific” approach to the negotiation process [1]. This “scientific” approach refers to a systematic analysis of problem solving on optimizing the outcomes and achieving a win-win solution for both parties.

With the advance of ICT, many exciting new areas are invented under the umbrella of “Electronic Negotiations”. Recent advance in computing discipline has introduced a new paradigm that essentially views “IT as a service”. This paradigm of Service-Oriented Computing (SOC) [2] signifies automation of service delivery which is of great practical value in terms of capability enhancement and cost saving. Negotiation, as a key coordination mechanism for service providers and clients to interact and reach agreements would be a “bottleneck” in the entire automated process, if otherwise manual. Researchers have put a surge of interests into negotiation technologies, especially in recent five years.

Automated E-Negotiation engine often utilizes intelligent, autonomous agents to represent service providers and clients and negotiate service terms with each other. Building autonomous negotiation agents is a challenging task in both research and practical communities, mainly due to the software agents’ lack of knowledge on the “stake holders” of the negotiation. In other words, unsophisticated negotiation agents face the risk of inaccurately representing their “human masters”, and/or wrongly ignoring negotiation opponents’ preferences to successfully clinching deals with them.

The E-Negotiation research in Advance Computing program at the Institute of High Performance Computing looks into this important and relevant topic. To tackle the obstacles to successful e-negotiation agents, software agents are to be designed using adaptive learning algorithms and utilizing theory-informed human wisdom on negotiation tactics towards being capable “expert agents”. The researchers have multi-disciplinary backgrounds on social-psychological, economical models of negotiation research as well as knowledge on computer science and information technologies. In collaboration with our industry partners (e.g., Hewlett-Packard Labs), the team is actively engaged in designing, implementing, and experimenting robust and flexible negotiation agents that will eventually be put into market use.

Representative Publications:

Yang, Y.P., and Singhal, S. (2009). "Designing an Intelligent Agent that Negotiates Tactfully with Human Counterparts: A Conceptual Analysis and Modeling Framework", In Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conferences on System Sciences, Big Island, Hawaii, January 5-9, 2009.

Yang, Y. P., Lim, J., and Chen, Y. (2006). "Alternate Designs on Agent-Based e-Negotiation Systems: Concepts and Implementation", In Proceedings of 16th International Workshop on Information Technology and Systems: WITS2006, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, 9-10 December, 2006. (Best Paper Award)

Reference:

[1] Raiffa, H. (1982). The Art and Science of Negotiations. Belknap/Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

[2] Papazoglou, M.P., and Georgakopoulos, D. (2003). “Service-Oriented Computing”, Communications of the ACM, 46(10), pp. 25-28.

 

Back to Research Highlight

This page is last updated at: 16-JUL-2009