Aborting, Suspending, and Resuming Goals and Plans in BDI Agents

James Harland, David N. Morley, John Thangarajah, Neil Yorke-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Intelligent agents designed to work in complex, dynamic environments such as e-commerce must respond robustly and flexibly to environmental and circumstantial changes, including the actions of other agents. An agent must have the capability to deliberate about appropriate courses of action, which may include reprioritising tasks—whether goals or associated plans—aborting or suspending tasks, or scheduling tasks in a particular order. In this article we study mechanisms to enable principled suspend, resuming, and aborting of goals and plans within a Belief-Desire-Intention (BDI) agent architecture. We give a formal and combined operational semantics for these actions in an abstract agent language (CAN), thus providing a general mechanism that can be incorporated into several BDI-based agent platforms. The abilities enabled by our semantics provides an agent designer greater flexibility to direct agent operation, offering a generic means to manage the status of goals. We demonstrate the reasoning abilities enabled on a document workflow scenario.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-331
Number of pages44
JournalAutonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Intelligent agents
  • Goal reasoning
  • Belief-Desire-Intention
  • BDI agents


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