Position: Associate Professor, BCIS Academic Advisor & Coordinator
PhD (2009) University of Calgary
MSc (2003) University of Saskatchewan
BSc (1985) University of British Columbia
Prior to joining MRU in 2006, Alan spent many years in the IT field as a computer technician, a programmer, a system administrator, a database and data administrator, and an application development manager. Since 2006 Alan has taught computer science and computer information systems courses, mainly web development and databases. In addition he has taught in the general education program, teaching the foundation level “Controversies in Science” course.
Alan researches artificial intelligence using multi-agent systems (MAS) — systems composed of a distributed collection of simpler systems (agents). In much the same way that a single neuron is not capable of much, but billions of neurons together are a mind, the goal of MAS research is to explore how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts.
Alan’s current research project is Stakeholder Search. In a stakeholder search MAS, a collection of ‘stakeholder agents’ work cooperatively and competitively to find solutions to hard problems. A common approach to solving a difficult problem (e.g. land-use planning) is to gather the stakeholders together and have them work out a solution. Stakeholders will work toward finding a solution that meets their goals, at the same time as seeing that the collective goals are met. A stakeholder search works the same way. Agents try to find solutions that meet their own goals, and the MAS will collectively be trying to find solutions that meet the overall goals.
Alan is a mountaineer, a skier, an environmentalist, a barefoot hiker and an urban cyclist. Alan is currently serving on the board of directors for Bike Calgary, Calgary’s commuter cycling advocacy group. While riding his bike to work, Alan likes to fantasize about living in a city without cars.