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Keywords:

  • agent-oriented software engineering;
  • multiagent systems;
  • practical reasoning systems;
  • social reasoning

This article describes a framework for practical social reasoning designed to be used for analysis, specification, and implementation of the social layer of agent reasoning in multiagent systems. Our framework, called the expectation strategy behavior (ESB) framework, is based on (i) using sets of update rules for social beliefs tied to observations (so-called expectations), (ii) bounding the amount of reasoning to be performed over these rules by defining a reasoning strategy, and (iii) influencing the agent's decision-making logic by means of behaviors conditioned on the truth status of current and future social beliefs. We introduce the foundations of ESB conceptually and present a formal framework and an actual implementation of a reasoning engine, which is specifically combined with a general (belief–desire–intention-based) practical reasoning programming system. We illustrate the generality of ESB through select case studies, which show that it is able to represent and implement different typical styles of social reasoning. The broad coverage of existing social reasoning methods, the modularity that derives from its declarative nature, and its focus on practical implementation make ESB a useful tool for building advanced socially reasoning agents.