OWL-POLAR: Semantic Policies for Agent Reasoning

Policies are declarations of constraints on the behaviour of components within distributed systems, and are often used to capture norms within agent-based systems. A few machine-processable representations for policies have been proposed, but they tend to be either limited in the types of policies that can be expressed or limited by the complexity of associated reasoning mechanisms. In this paper, we argue for a language that sufficiently expresses the types of policies essential in practical systems, and which enables both policy-governed decisionmaking and policy analysis within the bounds of decidability.We then propose an OWL-based representation of policies that meets these criteria using and a reasoning mechanism that uses a novel combination of ontology consistency checking and query answering. In this way, agent-based systems can be developed that operate flexibly and effectively in policy-constrainted environments.