I am Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Creative Technologies at the University of the West of England Bristol.
I have been part of the NGCDI programme, exploring agent-based supervisory control architectures for the management of critical digital infrastructures. I started in NGCDI when I was Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge , working with Prof. Ajith Parlikad and Prof. Duncan McFarlane.
I completed my PhD in Computer Science at the University of Leicester as part of the team of Prof. Stephan Reiff-Marganiec, I studied autonomy and self-adaptation in systems of smart objects and how to realise these behaviours through middleware architectures.
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I study and design distributed intelligent systems. I analyse the dynamics of complex networks of agents, design strategies, algorithms and protocols for collective system learning and self-organisation. Most of my research work is applied to Internet of Things (IoT) environments, where intelligent agents are embodied in cyber-physical devices.
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Agent-based systems have been widely used to develop industrial control systems when they are required to address issues such as flexibility, scalability and portability. The most common approach to develop such control systems is with agents embedded in a platform that provides software libraries and runtime services that ease the development process. These platforms also bring challenges to the agent-based control system engineering. For example, they might introduce default design features, such as a global directory of agents. Furthermore, agents are generally locked in a platform and depend on the platform’s available support for deployment across computing infrastructures. This article addresses these challenges through an approach for building agent-based control systems, that relaxes the dependencies in multiagent system (MAS) platforms, through the use of container-based virtualisation. The proposed approach is elaborated via a reference architecture that enables the implementation of agents as self-contained applications that can be deployed, on-demand, in independent environments but still are able to communicate and coordinate with other agents of the control system. We built a prototype using this approach and evaluated it in the context of a case study for the supervisory control of digital network infrastructures. This case study enabled us to demonstrate feasibility of the approach and to show the flexibility, of the resulting control system, to adopt several topologies as well as to operate at different scales, over emulated networks. We also concluded that designing agents as individual deployment units is also cost-effective especially in control scenarios with low number of stable agents.