Paper: Blackboard Architectures

Blackboard Architectures
Damian Isla and Bruce Blumberg [2002]

This paper explains a possible approach to handle coordination between different AI agents called "blackboard". This architecture references the physical blackboard that we are all used to.

A physical blackboard provides a shared space where the problem can be broken down and incrementally solved. Also, the group standing around the blackboard can break into smaller groups to solve different parts of the problem but still knowing how the others are going and being able to assist them if necessary.

A blackboard architecture consists on three basic elements:
  • A blackboard: A publicly read/writeable information display.
  • Knowledge sources: Components that operate on the information that the blackboard contains.
  • Arbiter: Given a single snapshot of the blackboard contents, the arbiter must decide which of the relevant knowledge sources to execute.

This system can be used as part of an agent architecture. The most notable improvement when using this architecture is that when the agent needs to be extended, the new modules just need to be connected to the blackboard and that's it. This could also help to morph an agent's behavior by adding or removing knowledge sources.

Also, this system can be used for agent-to-agent coordination. Depending on the type of game, the knowledge sources can represent different elements. The most important aspect of this architecture is to get the arbiter's decision making algorithm right.

The full article can be found in the book AI Game Programming Wisdom.

Isla, Damian; Blumberg, Bruce (2002) Blackboard Architectures. In Steve Rabin (Ed.) AI Game Programming Wisdom (pp 333 - 344) United States, Charles River Media Inc.

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