Agent communication languages (ACLs) are fundamental mechanisms that enable agents in multi-agent systems to talk, communicate with each other in order to satisfy their individual and social goals in a cooperative and competitive manner. Social approaches are advocated to overcome the shortcomings of ACL semantics delineated by using mental approaches in the figure of agents’ mental notions. Over the last two decades, social commitments have been the subject of considerable research in some of those social approaches as they provide a powerful representation for modeling and reasoning upon multi-agent interactions in the form of mutual contractual obligations. They particularly provide a declarative, flexible, verifiable, and social semantics for ACL messages while respecting agents’ autonomy, heterogeneity, and openness.
In this manuscript, we go through prominent and predominate proposals in the literature to explore the state of the art on how temporal logics can be devoted to define a formal semantics for ACL messages in terms of social commitments and associated actions. We explain each proposal and point out if and how it meets seven crucial criteria, four of them introduced by Munindar P. Singh to have a well-defined semantics for ACL messages. Far from deciding the best proposal, our aim is to present the advantages (strengths) and limitations of those proposals to designers and developers using a concrete running example and to compare between them, so that they can make the best choice with regard to their needs. We explore and evaluate current specification languages and different verification techniques that have been discussed within those proposals to, respectively, specify and verify commitment-based protocols. We also investigate logical languages of actions advocated to specify, model, and execute commitment-based protocols in other contributed proposals. Finally, we suggest some solutions that can contribute to address the identified limitations.