Ecommerce System Demonstration

As an initial problem domain in Ecommerce, we chose collective book purchasing. In the university setting, relatively large numbers of students enrolled in the same classes purchase the same required books. Such groups can be bundled as coalitions, given the ease of payment collection, distribution of goods, and the potentially large number of users involved in the system.

Figure 2: System Architecture
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The testbed system (see figure 2) consists of a coalition server, an auctioneer agent, a set of supplier agents, and a web-based interface for end users. The system is based on a simple pre-negotiation protocol and a variation of sealed-bid reverse auction that allows suppliers to disclose their discount policies.

Agents use the WWW interface to conduct reverse auctions with supplier agents. The supplier agents, in turn, are given a step function volume discount schedule and make their bids according to projected sizes of coalitions. After the reverse auction is complete, the coalition server opens the coalition to new members, who can join the group if they meet the entrance requirements. After the group is formed, the coalition server proceeds to execute the transaction.

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