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Matchmaking in electronic markets : an agent-based approach towards matchmaking in electronic negotiations (Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2882.)
Veit D., Springer-Verlag, 2004. 180 pp. Type: Book (9783540205005)
Date Reviewed: Aug 12 2004

This book lives up to the challenge of explaining the complexities of matchmaking in multidimensional scenarios of electronic commerce. Transactions depend on several decision points, which the author maps into a framework of ranking procedures to arrive at the optimal outcome for a given transaction.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1, “Fundamentals and Related Work,” includes three chapters. The “Reader’s Guide” (page 5) in the introductory chapter is the best summary of a book I have seen in a long time. It states that this work contributes to matchmaking fundamentals by presenting a formal definition, an overview of research, and a formal framework, including an implementation and evaluation of a use case using this formal framework. Chapter 2 provides a useful overview of the terminology, both from the standpoint of economic concepts, and via computational definitions. Chapter 3 discusses the real world jungle of matchmaking research. The valiant task of getting existing research endeavors into a matrix shows that, given a multitude of approaches and schools of thought, the best one can do is compare apples to oranges.

Part 2, “Multidimensional Matchmaking Approach,” is the core of the book. The generic request architecture for passive provider agents (GRAPPA) matchmaking framework is laid out perfectly here, with details about its engine, library, and toolkit. The intent of using GRAPPA is to create a cookie-cutter approach to matchmaking, whereby a generic framework is adopted to a specific domain, providing the principled underpinnings for the GRAPPA engine accepting a set of offers (“the candidate agents”), and one request (“the centroid agent”), while the matchmaker agent collects offers, and provides ranked lists of appropriate offers to the centroids. The centroid is then matched against each of the candidates. Offers and requests can be multi-dimensional, consisting of complex types derived from a specific collection of atomic type constructors (namely, list, array, record, and set).

Essential to the matchmaking system are distance functions (freetext, keyword, interval, and so on). Distance functions take two atomic values, and generate a real number between zero and one as “the distance.” Domain-specific and complex distance functions are also used. The distance value between zero and one gives an indication of the quality of any given candidate to be considered by the current centroid. The process returns a list of candidates, whereby each candidate is ranked by its distance value, and the agent can select the best possible candidate.

Part 3, “Application, Evaluation, and Outlook,” describes a use case for GRAPPA in the human resource market in Germany. The developed system, HRNETAGENT, shows how the adaptation of the generic framework is done based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), and sophisticated matchmaking features that can also be integrated into an existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The book closes with an outlook on new technologies, and procedures that can help make multidimensional matchmaking easily and ubiquitously accessible via Web services.

Readers beware; the book is based on a dissertation, and is no easy read, but is well worth the effort if you are serious about studying matchmaking. The outline is clear, and academically concise, with previews and reviews to underscore clarity, but not readability. Sections such as Part 2, chapter 5.2, which explains the basics of Java, are superfluous. One would have assumed a more meticulous copy-editing process, especially when the author is not a native speaker. It is annoying at times, when nonwords and typographical errors appear, such as “broked” systems (page 46), “genericity” (page 75) , “layed” (page 79), “personell,” and “enalble” (page 140). This takes away from the very good structural presentation of the material, and the reasoning that went into this important step, to harness the body of research for multidimensional matchmaking, and add to it significantly.

Ebay turned us all into believers in online auctions and e-commerce. This book contributes a great deal to an understanding of what has to happen procedurally, from our first click to make an offer, to getting the package in the mail.

Reviewer:  Klaus K. Obermeier Review #: CR129995
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