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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

May 1997

This file is a list of items added to the UMBC agents pages this month and is in maintained chronological order.
1999: July,
1998: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug,
1997: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec,
1996: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec,
1995: Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.

Unicom seminar on agents in telecommunications

Unicom invites submissions for a seminar on Intelligent Agents in Telecommunications which will take place in London, England on 7 October 1997. This will be part of a series of events covering topics from AI to Intranets to Data Mining, details of which can be found at

Discovery mobile agent framework

Discovery is a mobile agent framework beinf developed by Sashi Lazar ( of the Maryland Center for Telecommunications Research. It is part of a larger project, targeted to design and develop a scaleable high speed network monitoring and management system based on mobile network manager modules. It was designed with the vision that it will serve as the common ground for future work for mobile agent based applications in virtually all domains of software development. Therefore the server runtime environment was designed to be as simple as possible. The sole purpose of the agent server is to provide low level security and a robust mechanism for transporting the agent between hosts on the network.

Mobile Agents book

Mobile Agents: Explanations and Examples, by William R. Cockayne and Michael Zyda, Softbound, 250 pages, $42, Manning ISBN 1884777368, Includes CD-ROM. "Mobile Agents is the first book to give the reader the ability to create and use powerful mobile agents on the Internet. The book presents the reality of today's agent technologies and the future that this technology promises. It teaches how to create and deploy the major mobile agent systems (Telescript, Agent Tcl, Ara, Aglets Workbench) and how to solve a variety of problems on the Internet. Each of the chapters was written in collaboration with the original developers of the agent systems. Author William Cockayne ( is a researcher in advanced technologies at Pumpkin, a technology research center in Monterey, CA. His work involves humans, and is presently contributing to his Ph.D. Author Michael Zyda ( is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. Professor Zyda's main focus in research is in the area of computer graphics, specifically the development of large-scale, networked 3D virtual environments." 5/27/97

Darwin Among the Machines

Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence, George B. Dyson, Hardcover, 288 pages. Published by Addison-Wesley Pub Co, May 1,1997, ISBN: 0201406497. An astonishing prediction of the World-Wide Web's ultimate challenge to human civilization: a globally networked, electronic, sentient being George Dyson grew up at the Institute for Advanced Study, where such scientists as his father, Freeman Dyson, and John von Neumann laid the foundations for the Information Age. From this vantage point, and with an unprecedented cast of characters, Dyson traces the course of the information revolution, illuminating the lives, work, and ideas of visionaries who foresaw the development of artificial intelligence, artificial life, and the global mind. He constructs a straightforward, convincing, and occasionally frightening view of the evolution of mind in the electronic network, on a level transcending our own. Dyson concludes, based on several centuries worth of scientific research, that nature is on the side of the machines. In 1978, George Dyson, along with his physicist father, was the subject of Kenneth Brower's bestselling book, The Starship and the Canoe. The brother of computer guru Esther Dyson, he brings inside knowledge to an outsider's point of view. 5/27/97

agents in the Economist

The May 17th issue of the Economist (v343, n8017) has a short article on software agents, Applets with attitude -- Computer viruses need not be all bad. The article talks about mobile agents, IBM's aglets, the need for standards and General Magic's Tabriz. 5/18/97

Java and Mobile Agents

Steven R. Farley, Mobile Agent System Architecture -- A flexible alternative to moving data and code to complete a given task. Java report, May 1997 Vol. 2, No. 5, SIGS Publications. "This article discusses mobile agents in the context of system architecture. For some applications, an agent architecture should be employed as the core around which the rest of the system is built. An agent system provides a framework in which mobile agents can operate. Just as distributed objects within a CORBA-based system rely on Object Request Brokers (ORBs), agents require agent hosts, which provide an environment in which the agent may execute. In the case of a Java implementation, the agent environment is a Java VM containing server objects on which the agent operates. Other agents may be present as well, and they can communicate with each other if the implementation allows. We will show the design and implementation of a simple agent system that takes advantage of some new JDK 1.1 features." [Ruven Wang,] 5/18/97

Origins of Virtue

Matt Ridley, The Origins of Virtue : Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation, Viking Press, April 1997, ISBN: 0670874493, Hardcover, 304 pages List: $24.95. The Origins of Virtue is a popular account by a British science journalist about current thinking of cooperation and how it may have evolved in human society. It "is about the billion-year coagulation of our genes into cooperative teams, the million-year coagulation of our ancestors into cooperative societies, and the thousand-year coagulation of ideas about society and its origins. ... Our minds have been built by selfish genes, but they have been built to be social, trustworthy and cooperative." the book was the subject of a recent New York Times book review by David Papineau. 5-18-97

A the May 1st issue of the Salon eMagazine had two articles by Andrew Leonard on Microsft's use of animated agents in Office '97:
  • Office97 -- or Office 1984?. Move into Microsoft's suite and Big Brother Paper Clip will be watching you
  • Tough room for the 'toons. Despite the boos and catcalls, Microsoft keeps sending its animated little helpers out into the spotlight to perform their artificial-intelligence tricks
The May 15th issue has an article "Can We Talk" in which Tracy Quan talks about participaint in the most recent Loebner competition. 5/15/97

Introduction to Artificial Life

Moshe Sipper, An Introduction To Artificial Life, in Explorations in Artificial Life, (special issue of AI Expert), pages 4-8, September, 1995. Miller Freeman. (available as gzip'd postscript, 50kB).

A Laissez-Faire Economy of Idiots

Eric Baum, Toward a Model of Mind as a Laissez-Faire Economy of Idiots, (27 pages), draft February, 1997. A nine page extended abstract appeard in Proc. 13th ICML '96, ed. L. Saitta, Morgan Kaufman, San Fran. CA., April 4, 1996, (nine pages). Abstract: A learning machine called ``The Hayek Machine" is proposed and tested on a simulated Blocks World planning problem. Hayek learns a set of agents from reinforcement. The agents interact in a market economy. A price mechanism is proposed and seen to have three desirable effects. First, the market price learns to estimate Hayek's future reward from using a given agent. Second, the market automatically selects the agent with highest estimate to act next. Third, new agents can enter the market if and only if they have greater expected utility than direct competitors. Hayek learns by gradual accretion of useful agents and elimination of poor ones,and by refinement of its price estimates. ... My goals in studying Hayek are threefold. First, Hayek represents progress toward a useful program for learning to reason. Second, it is intended as a model of mind. It models how human-like mental capabilities can be autonomously broken into simple components nowhere invoking a homunculus. Third, it is a model of economics. Utilizing very limited agents and starting far from equilibrium, Hayek achieves a productive and stable economy. It thus gives insight as to why and how far mathematical economic predictions based on assumptions of computationally powerful and rational agents, and on convergence to equilibrium, can be expected to hold in the real world. 5/15/97

Engineering Intelligent Hybrid Multi-Agent Systems

Engineering Intelligent Hybrid Multi-Agent Systems , Rajiv Khosla and Tharam Dillon, 1997, 412 pages, Kluwer Academic Publishers. "This book is about building intelligent hybrid systems, problem solving, and software modeling. It is relevant to practioners and researchers in the areas of intelligent hybrid systems, control systems, multi-agent systems, knowledge discovery and data mining, software engineering, and enterprise-wide systems modeling. The book in many ways is a synergy of all these areas. The book can also be used as a text or reference book for postgraduate students in intelligent hybrid systems, software engineering, and system modeling. ... The book consists of four parts:
  • I: introduces various methodologies and their hybrid applications in the industry.
  • II: describes a multi-agent architectural theory of associative intelligent hybrid systems at the task structure level and the computational level. It covers various aspects related to knowledge modeling of hybrid systems.
  • III: describes the software engineering aspects of the architecture. It does that by describing a real-time alarm processing application of the architecture.
  • IV: takes a boader view of the various concepts and theories developed in Part II and III of the book respectively in terms of enterprise-wide systems modeling, multi-agent systems, control systems, and software engineering and reuse."

Cryptographically Protected Objects

Uwe G. Wilhelm, Cryptographically Protected Objects. This paper proposes the use of a "tamper proof environment (TPE) as the execution environment for mobile objects, which contains a private key that is known to no other entity (not even the owner of the TPE). The TPE runs a virtual machine that can execute the mobile objects and it is only accessible via a restricted interface that is controlled by the operating system of the TPE. In order to download an application, the user sends the public key of his/her TPE to the provider of the application, who will encode the mobile objects that comprise the application with this key and send them to the user. Then the encrypted objects are uploaded to the TPE, which will decode and execute them. ... The approach presented in the paper guarantees the integrity of the execution environment to the provider of the mobile objects and protects the code and data of the objects against manipulation and disclosure, both in transit and during execution." 5/13/97

Mediator Languages

Len Seligman ( points out that the March 97 issue of ACM Sigmod Record carries both the earlier mentioned article on data Mediator Languages as well as a critique: Mediator languages are relevant to many agent-based systems because they provide tools and techniques which directly address the problem of exchanging data and knowledge among heterogeneous systems. 5/13/97

Logic Programming and MAS

An international workshop on Logic Programming and Multi-Agents will be held in conjunction with ICLP'97, Leuven, Belgium July 8--12, 1997. Topics of interest include but are not limited to: Interacting agents; Meta logic programmming applied to multi agent programming; Distributed reactive systems; Cognitive robotics; and applications to: Integration of heterogeneous autonomous systems; Software agents; agent oriented interface programming, real-time systems; Relations between agent oriented programming and object-oriented programming; and Inductive logic programming for self-organizing agents. 5/13/97

DAI meets ML

G. Weiss (Ed.), 1997, Distributed artificial intelligence meets machine learning - Learning in multi-agent environments, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence Vol. 1221, Springer-Verlag, 294 pp., $44.95 / DM68 softcover, ISBN 3-540-62934-3. "The intersection of distributed artificial intelligence and machine learning constitutes a relatively young but important area of research that has received steadily increasing attention in the past years. This book documents current and ongoing developments in the area of learning in distributed artificial intelligence systems. It contains selected, revised and extended versions of sixteen papers that were first presented at two related workshops: the workshop on `Learning in Distributed Artificial Intelligence Systems' held at the Twelfth European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI-96, Hungary, August 1996), and the workshop on `Learning, Interaction, and Organization in Multiagent Environments' held at the 2nd International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS-96, Japan, December 1996). Additionally, the book contains a survey article by Munindar Singh and Michael Huhns on challenges for machine learning in cooperative information systems, and a reader's guide by the editor." The book contains three main sections: Learning, cooperation and competition; Learning about/from other agents and the world; and Learning, communication and understanding. 5/12/97

Intelligent Animated Interface Agents

A workshop on Animated Interface Agents: Making them Intelligent will be held in conjunction with IJCAI-97 in Nagoya, Japan, August 25, 1997. The program will cover design guidelines and principles, frameworks and design tools, conversational agents, pedagogical agents, facial displays, and characters and emotions.


WET ICE '97 -- the IEEE Sixth Workshops on Enabling Technologies: Infrastructure for Collaborative Enterprises -- will be held June 18-20, 1997 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. WET ICE '97 will consist of five parallel workshops on different topics (including Collaborative Agents in Distributed Web Applications ) related to collaboration technology. Each workshop will include paper presentations and working group discussions, with additional joint keynote sessions and a final joint session to summarize each groups' findings. Register by May 19 to get the early registration fee 5/10/97

Intelligent agents books at Amazon

Amazon books maintains a standing search category for books on "Intelligent agents". They currently list eleven books in this category: They offer eyes -- a email notification service -- to alert you when new books matching a query are available. 5/10/97

Complexity of Cooperation

The Complexity of Cooperation Web Site contains software, documentation, bibliographies, and other resources connected with Robert Axelrod's book The Complexity of Cooperation: Agent-Based Models of Competition and Collaboration, to be published by Princeton University Press in the fall of 1997. 5/7/97

How Economists Can Get Alife

L. Tesfatsion, "How Economists Can Get Alife", in W. Brian Arthur, Steven Durlauf, and David Lane (eds.), The Economy as an Evolving Complex System, II, Proceedings Volume XXVII, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, Addison Wesley, 1997. This chapter presents a summary overview of the fast developing field of artificial life, stressing aspects especially relevant for the study of decentralized market economies. 5/7/97

Palmtop digiPet

Shuji Fukumoto has developed DigiPet -- a Tamagotchi like digital pet for the USR Pilot. It is a port with some modification from a Zaurus application by Masanori Shimozato.


Second International Conference on Coordination Models and Languages will be held in Berlin, Germany on September 1-3, 1997. The conference features invited talks and submitted papers on the class of languages and models variously termed "coordination languages", "configuration languages", and "architectural description languages". These formalisms provide a clean separation between individual software components and their interaction in the overall software organisation, making large applications more tractable, supporting global analysis, and enhancing reuse of software. 5/6/97

togglethis's IC Technology

togglethis is a privately held New York software development and production company which has just released an "Interactive Character (IC)" system to create animated, instructable and interactive characters which can be delivered over the Internet. To demonstrate its IC Technology, togglethis is launching The Adventures of Bozlo Beaver, a series of interactive episodes available free by subscription. The IC Technology consists IC Studio, an authoring tool that can be used to create online content featuring interactive characters with full animation and sound, IC Language, a proprietary programming language specifying the actions of the interactive characters, and IC Engine, the interpreter for the IC Language scripts. Viewers will downloaded IC engine once and install it on their local system. Content is delivered as IC language script files (5-20k) as email attachments or downloaded from a Web site. IC engine is available today for Windows 95 (3MB compressed) and is expected to be available for Windows 3.x in June and for Macintosh in July.

On team formation

Cohen, P. R., Levesque, H. R., & Smith, I. On team formation. To appear in Hintikka, J. and Tuomela, R. (Eds.) Contemporary Action Theory. Synthese. 5/5/97


BISFAI'97 -- The Fifth Bar-Ilan Symposium on Foundations of Artificial Intelligence Focusing on Intelligent Agents will be held June 16-18, 1997 at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel. The scientific program includes six invited speakers and 21 contributed papers. 4/4/97

UC's Agent-based manufacturing lab

The University of Cincinnati has an Agent-Based Manufacturing Laboratory headed by Professor Albert D. Baker. The group is participating in a number of ongoing projects which use an agent-oriented approach for manufacturing planning, scheduling, simulation and design. See A.D. Baker, H.V.D. Parunak, and K. Erol, "Manufacturing over the Internet and into Your Living Room: Perspectives from the AARIA Project,Working Paper, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science, University of Cincinnati, January 13, 1997" for a recent overview. 5/4/97

Tamagotchi hits US market

Tamagotchi ("cute little egg") has been a very popular Japanese "believable-agent" toy created by Bandai Co. It has finally been released in the US market where it is retailing in the $15 to $20 range. It's packaging instructs:
"Tamagotchi is a tiny pet from cyberspace who needs your love to survive and grow. If you take care of your Tamagotchi pet, it will slowly grow bigger and healthier, and more beautiful every day. But if you neglect your little cyber creature, your Tamagotchi may grow up to be mean or ugly. How old will your Tamagotchi be when it returns to its home planet? What kind of virtual caretaker will you be?"
The New York Times has been running a series of articles on the toy and what it is like to raise one. 5/4/97

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