Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015 - 13

and the accessibility of an agent is restricted by its current role. An environment can be formed with roles without considering the physical locations of roles and,
therefore, establishes distributed groups.
Agents are designed and stored in the peripheral
memories of different computers and are assigned to
current and potential roles. After agents are assigned to
roles located at the different computer of an environment, a distributed group is established. Whether the
group is workable is up to whether all its roles are
workable. An application is considered as a group
composed of agents that are dynamically assigned to
different roles belonging to an environment. This environment is made of roles and classes of objects. From
the architecture and definitions of components of the
E-CARGO model, we may clarify the self-* properties of
an ACS [9]. Note that we emphasize the ACS self but not
an agent self. Self-* properties can be formalized with
rules that guide the role engine implementation [16].
Such an activity lies beyond the scope of this article. If
we consider an agent as a group, the self-* property
belongs to an agent.
Self-Awareness
With RBC, roles provide agents with this property. Roles
are templates to regulate agents' behavior and the interactions among agents. In an ACS, agents are composed of
qualifications and abilities, and they behave based on
their preprogrammed processes. An agent behaves abnormally when its preprogrammed processes are infected by
malicious attacks. These kinds of agents are called
infected agents, and an infected agent cannot complete
routine tasks in the required time and within a preset
space specified in its current role. When an infected
agent is running, it actually takes extra CPU time and
memory space to behave according to its affected code.
The role engine has a time slot to run to check every
agent's performance and report if an agent is in a bad
state. In a sentence, an ACS can be self-aware of any
abnormality of itself.
Self-Configuring
For a role, qualified agents include both potential and current agents, i.e., Ac , Ap. Role transfer (RT) replaces an
agent with a better one, and so RT directly meets the
requirement of self-configuration. The developed role
transfer algorithms [22] are efficient enough to conduct
such jobs in self-configuration.
Self-Optimizing
Optimization is often associated with space and time efficiencies. In an ACS, different agents play different roles,
and they possess attributes related to space and time. AE
is used to checking the qualifications of agents on roles.
Reassignment of agents to roles is fundamental for dynamic optimization in an ACS. AC mainly aims to optimize the

Groups (G)
Agents (A)
Environments (E)
Roles (R)
Role Engine (New OS Utilities)
Class (C) and Objects (O) [Operating Systems (OS)]
Hardware (CPU + Memory + Network Interface)
Figure 4. the architecture of an aCS.

overall system performance of an ACS with the developed
algorithm GRA [18].
Self-Healing
When an abnormality is found, it is reported to and recorded by the role engine in an ACS. The role engine responds
to the report and takes actions to cure the abnormality,
and the misbehaving agents are stopped and replaced in a
limited time. The major curing method is to transfer the
role currently played by the infected agent to another qualified and uninfected agent. A benefit of an ACS is that once
an agent is evaluated to be one that is infected, it will
never run until it is cleaned or cured, because it cannot
pass the qualification checking based on the relevant role.
Self-Protection
In an ACS, roles [16] protect the system from being
intruded by outside malicious messages. In traditional
systems, a computer affects other computers by issuing
messages through the network interface. The protection should be activated when a message is received,
and that is why a firewall is used. But if the messages
pass the checking of a firewall, then the malicious
codes in the messages still affect the target machines.
From the message definition of E-CARGO, hacker messages basically simulate the regular or legal message
pattern l and hide malicious code in the parameter
object p. To check whether a message has such malicious code is a typical task for protection mechanisms.
Within an ACS, an agent sends a message through its
current role and then the message is dispatched by the
role engine. In this situation, a malicious message can
only be sent out by an agent with malicious aims. However, a role can evaluate if a message is bad through the
common pattern of a message. Furthermore, in an ACS,
the role engine at the receiver side can check the message. This protection occurs when a message is re ceived, dispatched, and executed.
In summary, an ACS meets all the requirements of an
adaptive system that possesses the self-* properties. An
adaptive system should be able to modify its behavior
according to changes in its environment [1]-[5], [8]-[11],
[13], [14]. In an ACS, such changes are expressed as
O c tob e r 2015

IEEE SyStEmS, man, & CybErnEtICS magazInE

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Systems, Man & Cybernetics - October 2015

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