I-ABM: combining institutional frameworks and agent-based modelling for the design of enforcement policies

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Computer science advocates institutional frameworks as an effective tool for modelling policies and reasoning about their interplay. In practice, the rules or policies, of which the institutional framework consists, are often specified using a formal language, which allows for the full verification and validation of the framework (e.g. the consistency of policies) and the interplay between the policies and actors (e.g. violations). However, when modelling large-scale realistic systems, with numerous decision-making entities, scalability and complexity issues arise making it possible only to verify certain portions of the problem without reducing the scale. In the social sciences, agent-based modelling is a popular tool for analysing how entities interact within a system and react to the system properties. Agent-based modelling allows the specification of complex decision-making entities and experimentation with large numbers of different parameter sets for these entities in order to explore their effects on overall system performance. In this paper we describe how to achieve the best of both worlds, namely verification of a formal specification combined with the testing of large-scale systems with numerous different actor configurations. Hence, we offer an approach that allows for reasoning about policies, policy making and their consequences on a more comprehensive level than has been possible to date. We present the institutional agent-based model methodology to combine institutional frameworks with agent-based simulations). We furthermore present J-Inst AL, a prototypical implementation of this methodology using the Inst AL institutional framework whose specifications can be translated into a computational model under the answer set semantics, and an agent-based simulation based on the jason tool. Using a simplified contract enforcement example, we demonstrate the functionalities of this prototype and show how it can help to assess an appropriate fine level in case of contract violations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-398
Number of pages28
JournalArtificial Intelligence and Law
Issue number4
Early online date6 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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