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However, it is linked to mostly from philosophy and economics. It seems to me that we need an article that defines "rational agent" based the literature of those fields. I believe that Russell and Norvig are using the term in an idiosyncratic way: they use it as better name for what AI researchers call an "intelligent agent". This is misleading to the reader.
Since I don't have sources for philosophy or economics (or time to look for them), I will survey the links that point here and see if they can't be pointed somewhere closer to the point. Once orphaned, I can redirect this article somewhere else. The material in this article (what little there is), can be merged into the article intelligent agent.
As a researcher in the intersection between microeconomics and AI, I do object to this plan. A rational agent from the economics standpoint is described via rational choice theory. From the literature I'm familiar with, a rational agent is one that has unbounded, practically limitless computational resources, whereas an intelligent agent is a set that includes rational agents, but also includes agents that are "smart", but have limited computational resources. For example, the class of intelligent agents includes agents that are "typed" according to game theory terminology or exhibit bounded rationality. Granted, there are some ambiguities to the definition of rationality, such as whether and how a rational agent discounts utility over time, but in general, a rational agent has a fairly solid definition.
I also have Russell and Norvig's second edition from 2003. They also define and discuss rationality to some degree in chapter 1, along with the respective history. Even in their definition in chapter 2 is quite generic, and fits with the microecon definitions I'm familiar with. Halcyonhazard (talk) 06:44, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Would you mind taking a crack at this article? Do you have sources from both fields? The first sentence doesn't seem right to me, but I'm wary of rewriting this without sources on the economics side. My main concern is that this article is poor and doesn't have page numbered citations. We need to know where each sentence in the article is coming from. The merge is partly a way of removing a bad article.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 20:51, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
I rewrote and rearranged a chunk of it. The book I cited has most of the relevant definition information on that page, and the other things not cited I made sure to link to other articles that had their own citations. Also, I'm not familiar with Wikipedia's reference management (I'm too used to bibtex), so I'm not sure if I did that part right. It still needs work, but I think it's better. Halcyonhazard (talk) 00:45, 4 February 2009 (UTC)
I see the argument for the merge, but I'm not sure under which term it would be better to go. My arguments against the merge are that homo economicus is a model of humans (with many debates and qualifications, which adds volume to the homo economicus article), whereas a rational agent is just a type of agent. In my area in particular, rational agents are not designed to model humans, but rather to make decisions on their behalf. I don't see the rational agent article growing to be particularly large, but it is a common term used in game theoretic settings and models. I've also been a bit wary of merging articles of different concepts after this: Talk:Vickrey_auction#Unfortunate_merging. Halcyonhazard (talk) 14:01, 10 February 2009 (UTC)