Flexible decision control in an autonomous trading agent

John Collins, Wolfgang Ketter, Maria L Gini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Modern electronic commerce creates significant challenges for decision-makers. The trading agent competition for supply-chain management (TAC SCM) is an annual competition among fully-autonomous trading agents designed by teams around the world. Agents attempt to maximize profits in a supply-chain scenario that requires them to coordinate Procurement, Production, and Sales activities in competitive markets. An agent for TAC SCM is a complex piece of software that must operate in a competitive economic environment. We report on results of an informal survey of agent design approaches among the competitors in TAC SCM, and then we describe and evaluate the design of our MinneTAC trading agent. We focus on the use of evaluators - configurable, composable modules for data analysis, modeling, and prediction that are chained together at runtime to support agent decision-making. Through a set of examples, we show how this structure supports Sales and Procurement decisions, and how those decision process can be modified in useful ways by changing evaluator configurations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalElectronic Commerce Research and Applications
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Multi-agent systems
  • Software architecture
  • Supply-chain management
  • Trading agent competition


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