Bidding agents for multiple heterogeneous online auctions
Due to the proliferation of online auctions, there is an increasing need to monitor and bid in multiple auctions in order to procure the best deal for the desired good. To this end, this thesis reports on the development of a heuristic decision making framework that an autonomous agent can exploit to tackle the problem of bidding across multiple auctions with varying start and end times and with varying protocols (including English, Dutch and Vickrey). The framework is flexible, configurable, and enables the agent to adopt varying tactics and strategies that attempt to ensure that the desired item is delivered in a manner consistent with the user's preferences. Given this large space of possibilities, a genetic algorithm is employed to search (offline) for effective strategies in common classes of environment. The strategies that emerge from this evolution are then codified into the agent's reasoning behaviour so that it can select the most appropriate strategy to employ in its prevailing circumstances. The proposed framework has been implemented in a simulated marketplace environment and its effectiveness has been empirically demonstrated.