Formal semantics for an abstract agent programming language

Koen V. Hindriks, Frank S. de Boer, Wiebe van der Hoek, John Jules Ch Meyer

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


In this article we investigate agent-oriented programming both from a theoretical and a practical view. We propose an abstract agent programming language with a clear and formally defined semantics. The semantics of our language is defined in terms of a transition system. Our language combines features of both logic programming, i.e. it is rule-based, and imperative programming, i.e. it includes the full range of conventional programming constructs. These features are well-understood and provide a solid basis for a structured agent programming language. On the more practical side we investigate the different properties of agents usually attributed to them, i.e. agents have a complex mental state, act pro-actively and reactively, and have reflective capabilites. We illustrate how these properties of agents are implemented in our programming language. In particalur, we propose general rules, called practical reasoning rules, which are used to define the reflective capabilities of agents and provide a mechanism for goal revision. The combination of the theoretical and practical perspective contributes, we hope, to filling the gap between theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntelligent Agents IV
Subtitle of host publicationAgent Theories, Architectures, and Languages - 4th International Workshop, ATAL 1997, Proceedings
EditorsMunindar P. Singh, Anand Rao, Michael J. Wooldridge
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)3540641629, 9783540641629
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes
Event4th International Workshop on Agent Theories, Architectures, and Languages, ATAL 1997 - Providence, United States
Duration: 24 Jul 199726 Jul 1997

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference4th International Workshop on Agent Theories, Architectures, and Languages, ATAL 1997
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Agent programming
  • Formal semantics
  • Practical reasoning
  • Reflective capabitites
  • Self-modification


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