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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
Multi-Agent Systems - An Introduction to Distributed Artificial Intelligence
Author:
Jacques Ferber
ISBN:
0 201 36048 9
Publisher:
Addison-Wesley
Pages:
506pp
Price:
£34.95
Reviewer:
Graham Kendall
Subject:
artificial life or intelligence
Appeared in:
11-5
As a researcher/lecturer in Artificial Intelligence (AI) it is not surprising that I was drawn to this book. The author says that he knows of no other book which covers the area of multi-agent systems (a view I agree with) and this establishes it as an important reference work for those working in this area.

However, if you are looking for an introduction to AI, then this is not the book I would recommend. I would suggest that you start with an AI book that explores agent technology without looking at distributed agents (it is difficult enough already!). (If you would like a couple of recommend texts then feel free to email me (mailto:gxk@cs.nott.ac.uk)).

This book would be an excellent follow up, once you have a basic understanding of AI.

This book, does give some introductory material but, due to the new material it has to cover, it has to assume a certain level of understanding.

Initially the book touches on some historical aspects of AI (and you are quickly introduced to some of the seminal work which provide the foundation for AI today - this includes The Physical Symbol Hypothesis of Newell and Simon and The Turing Test).

The remainder of the book leads us through artificial life, agents and then onto multi-agents (distributed AI) and all the problems that this poses.

If you are somebody who knows a little about AI already then I would recommend this book. If you have an interest in AI, but little knowledge, I would suggest some preparatory reading would be beneficial but then would recommend this book as an excellent follow up.