Computer Science Department
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


The Supply Chain Trading Agent Competition

Raghu Arunachalam, Norman M. Sadeh

September 2004

Also appears as Institute for Software Research International
Technical Report CMU-ISRI-04-133
To appear in Electronic Commerce Research & Applications (Currently unavailable)

Keywords: Agent-based systems, market game, multi-agent simulation, procurement, intelligent agents, supply chain management, trading agents

Supply chain management deals with the planning and coordination of bidding, production, sourcing and procurement activities associated with one or more products. It is central to today's global economy, leading to trillions of dollars in annual transactions worldwide. With the emergence of electronic marketplaces, it is only natural to seek automated solutions that are capable of rapidly evaluating a large number of bidding, sourcing and procurement options. In this paper, we detail a game we have designed to promote the research and evaluation of such solutions under realistic conditions. The game requires agents to manage the assembly of PCs, while competing with one another both for customer orders and for key components. We discuss how the game captures the complexity, stochasticity and competitive nature inherent to supply chain environments. A Web-based multi-agent simulation platform developed for the game was implemented in 2003 and validated in the context of the first Supply Chain Management Trading Agent Competition (TAC-SCM). A total of 20 teams from around the world competed with one another. We review agent strategies developed by different teams and discuss the merits of competition-based research over more traditional research methodologies in this area.

38 pages

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