Emergence of cooperative internet server sharing among internet search agents caught in the n-Person Prisoner's Dilemma Game

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5 Scopus citations


Information on the Internet can be collected by autonomous agents that send out queries to the servers that may have the information sought. From a single agent's perspective, sending out as many queries as possible maximizes the chances of finding the information sought. However, if every agent does the same, the servers will be overloaded. The first major contribution of this paper is proving mathematically that the agents situated in such environments play the n-Person Prisoner's Dilemma Game. The second is mathematically deriving the notion of effectiveness of cooperation among the agents in such environments and then presenting the optimal interval for the number of information sites for a given number of information-seeking agents. When the optimal interval is satisfied, cooperation among agents is effective, meaning that resources (e.g., servers) are optimally shared. Experimental results suggest that agents can better share available servers through the kinship-based cooperation without explicitly knowing about the entire environment. This paper also identifies difficulties of promoting cooperation in such environments and presents possible solutions. The long-term goal of this research is to elucidate the understanding of massively distributed multiagent environments such as the Internet and to identify valuable design principles of software agents in similar environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-55
Number of pages33
JournalKnowledge and Information Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Emergence of cooperation
  • Internet search agents
  • Multiagent systems
  • n-Person Iterated Dilemma Game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Artificial Intelligence


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