Peter McBurney

Peter McBurney






CAT Tournament





Lies and Deception

Cyber Conflict

Some Beliefs

KER Visualization

Other McBurneys

Contact Details


vicibus gratis formare loquentes
suetus et alterno verum contexere nodo.

Claudius Claudianus, 399 AD.

With skill at shaping urbane interchanges
A tapestry of truth from crossing strands.

Translation of Garry Wills.

Start-ups of students & colleagues:

3scale (now part of Redhat)
Bozii (later Freedom4)
Carbon 360
CogniCor Technologies
Dolphin Music
Financial Network Analytics
Redwing Asia
Ripple Software

Peter McBurney is a Professor of Computer Science and former Head of the Department of Informatics in the Faculty of Natural and Mathematical Sciences of King's College London. In the most recent national assessement of research by the UK Government (REF 2014), the Department of Informatics was ranked as 8th highest out of 89 British institutions doing research in computer science and informatics (using the power metric), a significant rise since the last assessment in 2008.

McBurney was Head of the Department of Informatics at King's College London for four years between 2013 and 2017. He is a member of the Agents and Intelligent Systems (AIS) Group of the Department, where he undertakes research into agent systems, agent-based models, distributed ledgers and smart contracts, and complex, adaptive (or co-evolutionary) systems. His work finds application in cyber conflict, computational finance and economics, and protocol design and analysis. In 2015, McBurney was elected to the Vloebergh Leerstoel of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, for 2015-2016, an honorary Chair entitling the holder to give five public lectures on his or her research. These lectures focused on research challenges and emerging technologies for computational modeling of economic and financial domains.

Between January 2004 and March 2006, McBurney was the Administrative Co-ordinator of the AgentLink III network, an EC-funded Co-ordination Action supporting European research and development in agent-based computing. The network comprised over 200 academic, research and industrial organizations from across Europe. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, he was founding GameMaster of the Market Design or CAT Tournament, sponsored by the Trading Agent Competition and the MBC Project. In 2011, he was Chair of the Innovative Applications Track at the 10th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2011), in Taipei, Taiwan.

Since January 2007, McBurney has been joint Editor-in-Chief of the refereed journal, The Knowledge Engineering Review, published by Cambridge University Press. During 2008-2011, he was an invited Board Member of the Association for Trading Agent Research, organizers of the annual Trading Agent Competitions (TAC). As measured by research citations in August 2006, he is among the Top 1.2% of all computer scientists in the world. According to Google Scholar, McBurney has an h-index score of 42, and his most-cited publication has 526 citations.

McBurney's research focuses on several areas in multi-agent software systems:

The design, analysis, and implementation of agent communications languages (ACLs) and protocols, to enable automated and rational interaction, argumentation, and dialog over action between machines. His research has primarily explored the formal semantics and pragmatics of ACLs and protocols. This work has application to the design and implementation of interaction protocols for blockchain and shared ledger technologies, including the use of smart contracts which can make inferences and execute instructions automatically. Because these technologies reduce the need for trusted third parties in transactions between strangers, they are about to revolutionize banking and insurance, and possibly many legal domains also. McBurney spoke on intelligent protocols at DevCon1.

The automated design, software engineering, and control of multi-agent simulation models of public policy and corporate strategy domains, particularly in economics, marketing, public health, and cyber security. In these domains, the presence of reflective intelligent entities able to learn, and able themselves to model the environment they are in, creates significant methodological, research and engineering challenges for agent-based modelling of these complex adaptive systems. A key challenge is the modeling, generation, and control of co-evolutionary and co-adaptive behaviours in such systems.

Most recently, in collaboration with colleagues in the King's College War Studies Department, he has applied these ideas on complex adaptive systems to understanding cyber conflict, cyberwar and cyberweapons, for example here.

The practical value of McBurney's work in agent communications has been shown by a recent application, in work by PA Kodeswaran and colleagues, of the Fatio Protocol for multi-agent argumentation (developed with Simon Parsons) for the problem of resolving conflicting routing policies of distinct autonomous domains each using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), at the Network Layer (Layer 3) of the standard Internet stack.

He has published over 180 papers (124 refereed), 6 books and 14 monographs. He has applied successfully for research grants from the Arts Council of England (ACE), the UK Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB), the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the European Commission's Information Society Technologies (IST) programme, the Ford Foundation, the US Department of Labor, the Canadian Agency for International Development, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). In total, these grants have amounted to some GBP 11 million in research funding. He has undertaken inter-disciplinary research projects with economists, philosophers, pure mathematicians, military strategists, epidemiologists, and a composer.

McBurney has the University Medal in Mathematical Statistics from the Australian National University, Canberra, and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Liverpool. In 1985-1986, as Chairman of the Department of Business Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, he led the creation of majority-ruled Southern Africa's first MBA programme. In 1991, he was appointed Chairman of an ad-hoc European Commission Working Party exploring future technology needs of the Publishing and Media industries (Eurinfo); among its achievements was the first detailed specification for an e-book. In both 2002 and 2005 he was co-author of an EC-sponsored report on the future of agent-based computer technologies, the AgentLink Agent Technologies Roadmap. He has undertaken proposal or project reviews for research funding agencies in Austria, Belgium, Canada, the EC, Finland, Flanders, Israel, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, and the UK (EPSRC, ESRC and BBSRC). He has been an official examiner for numerous PhD candidates in Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and the USA, and he has successfully supervised 19 PhD students and 1 MPhil student to completion. A list of his current PhD students can be found here.

As a management consultant, McBurney has advised the world's leading IT and Telecommunications companies on marketing strategy, implementation planning and strategic programming, and his clients have included: AT&T, British Telecom, Charoen Pokphand, Dallah Albaraka, Ericsson, GTE, ICO Global, Inmarsat, Kolon, NYNEX, O2, Omnipoint, Pegaso Telecomunicaciones, Qualcomm, Reliance Telecom, Sampoerna Telekomunikasi, Singapore Telecom, Teledesic, US WEST, and the World Insurance Network.

McBurney has been an invited co-editor of special issues of the refereed journals, ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems, Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (here and here), E-Commerce Research and Applications, IEEE Intelligent Systems, The Knowledge Engineering Review, and Synthese/Knowledge, Rationality and Action. He has helped organize a AAAI Symposium on Chance Discovery, a UK Multi-Agent Systems (UKMAS) Meeting (Liverpool 2002), three AgentLink Technical Forums, two AgentLink Agent Technology Conferences, a Workshop on Technical Standards in Agent Systems, a Workshop on Multi-Agent Systems and Complexity, two workshops on Market-Based Control of Complex Computational Systems, the Second International Workshop on Computational Social Choice, and three editions of the TAC Market Design (CAT) Tournament; he is also a founding member of the Steering Committee of the International Workshop series on Argumentation in Multi-Agent Systems, held annually most years since 2004, and Chair of the ArgMAS Workshops from 2009 to 2013 (inclusive).


Contact Details

I welcome emails from potential PhD students or academic visitors who are interested in working on a specific project or research area with me. General emails, which do not mention a specific project or research area, or those which describe a project unrelated to my research interests, are most unlikely to receive a reply.

For potential PhD students: Like every other academic, I prefer to supervise research in an area that overlaps with my own research interests, so there is little point contacting me unless you wish to work in one of these areas. I do not generally have funding for PhD students. Please only email me about doing a PhD if you have already secured your own funding or have good prospects of doing so. However, if you are a student at King's College, I am always happy to talk to you about doing a PhD.

For potential student interns: I do not usually have funding or places for student interns. In addition, if you are not a citizen of the European Union, you need a work permit to take a paid position as an intern in Britain. Please don't email me if you have neither funding nor permission to work in Britain.

Office Hours: My office hours are Fridays between 11:00 and 13:00. If you wish to see me at other times, please first make an appointment by email (see below for address).

The Department's Twitter handle is: @KCLInformatics

Contact details:

Peter McBurney
Department of Informatics
King's College London
London WC2R 2LS

Email: peter.mcburney [at]

© 2001 - 2016 Peter McBurney