CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science (CISD)


College of Engineering and Computing


Michael J. Laszlo

Committee Member

Sumitra Mukherjee

Committee Member

Francisco J. Mitropoulos


The adversarial multi-agent patrol problem is an active research topic with many real-world applications such as physical robots guarding an area and software agents protecting a computer network. In it, agents patrol a graph looking for so-called critical vertices that are subject to attack by adversaries. The agents are unaware of which vertices are subject to attack by adversaries and when they encounter such a vertex they attempt to protect it from being compromised (an adversary must occupy the vertex it targets a certain amount of time for the attack to succeed). Even though the terms adversary and attack are used, the problem domain extends to patrolling a graph for other interesting noncompetitive contexts such as search and rescue. The problem statement adopted in this work is formulated such that agents obtain knowledge of local graph topology and critical vertices over the course of their travels via an API ; there is no global knowledge of the graph or communication between agents. The challenge is to balance exploration, necessary to discover critical vertices, with exploitation, necessary to protect critical vertices from attack. Four types of adversaries were used for experiments, three from previous research – waiting, random, and statistical - and the fourth, a hybrid of those three. Agent strategies for countering each of these adversaries are designed and evaluated. Benchmark graphs and parameter settings from related research will be employed. The proposed research culminates in the design and evaluation of agents to counter these various types of adversaries under a range of conditions. The results of this work are agent strategies in which each agent becomes solely responsible for protecting those critical vertices it discovers. The agents use emergent behavior to minimize successful attacks and maximize the discovery of new critical vertices. A set of seven edge choosing primitives (ECPs) are defined that are combined in different ways to yield a range of agent strategies using the chain of responsibility OOP design pattern. Every permutation of them were tested and measured in order to identify those strategies that perform well. One strategy performed particularly well against all adversaries, graph topology, and other experimental variables. This particular strategy combines ECPs of: A hard-deadline return to covered vertices to counter the random adversary, efficiently checking vertices to see if they are being attacked by the waiting adversary, and random movement to impede the statistical adversary.