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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

November 1996

This file is a list of items added to the UMBC agents pages this month and is in maintained chronological order. Past months: November 1996, October 1996, September 1996, August 1996, July 1996, June 1996, May 1996, April 1996, March 1996, February 1996, January 1996, December 1995, November 1995, October 1995, September 1995, August 1995 and before.

MUD shops

Combined Second Winter Conference on Educational Uses of MUDS, and Third CAETI MUD Shop will be held at Teton Village, Jackson Hole, Wyoming from January 11 to 18, 1997. The Combined Conference is sponsored by DARPA and the Institute for Behavioral Research of the University of Georgia and are organized by Bruce K. Britton University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602) and Cindy Parks (DynCorp, Arlington, VA 22203). The aim is "to facilitate the interchange of ideas among researchers and practitioners in a variety of disciplines relating to MUDS. The Combined Conference aims to expose participants to summaries of recent progress in related areas of research and practice as well as to technical discussions of the latest findings in various areas of specialization." Two agent-related presentation have already been scheduled: "Evaluation of MUDs and the Role of Intelligent Agents" Peter Kiss and "Agents in Annotated Worlds" Patrick Doyle and Barbara Hayes-Roth. 11/27/96

Consumer Information Appliance Ontology

Consumer Information Appliance Ontology (Ciao) represents a simple approach to human-agent communication specifically for five user contexts: mail, entertainment on demand, news, home automation, and online shopping. This effort seeks to extend the TV handheld-remote concept to generate stereotypical queries and commands with a three-token command language. 11/27/96

IWOOOS session on mobile agents

Jeremy Hylton reports that the International Workshop on Object-Orientation in Operating Systems (IWOOOS) (IEEE CS Press) held a special session devoted largely to mobile agents. Relevant papers include: "On Flexible Support for Mobile Objects", Wouter Joosen, Frank Matthijs, Johav Van Oeyen, Bert Robben, Stijn Bijnens, and Pierre Verbaeten; Knowbot Programming: System Support for Mobile Agents , Jeremy Hylton, Ken Manheimer, Fred Drake, Barry Warsaw, Roger Masse, and Guido Van Rossum; A System Architecture for Flexible Control of Downloaded Executable Content", Trent Jaeger, Atul Prakash, and Avi Rubin; and Distributed Resource Monitors for Mobile Objects , M. Ranganathan, Anurag Acharya, and Joel Saltz. 11/27/96

Web accelerator does pre-fetching

Firm touts surfing 5 times faster, Jeff Pelline, C|Net Nov. 25, 1996. " Datalytics Incorported will announce a Web accelerator product at the Internet World trade show next month in New York that will let users surf the Web up to five times faster than they do today. The product, dubbed Blaze, is the latest example of a growing category of software that promises to boost performance of Web browsers and servers. Blaze relies on four technologies: compression, encapsulation, read-ahead browsing, and intelligent caching to speed up the process of downloading Web pages in real time. ... The read-ahead browsing feature uses idle modem time to "prefetch pages" that a user is likely to visit next. Intelligent caching takes advantage of existing caching features to make sure that pages don't have to be downloaded several times in a single session. Blaze is expected to sell for $79 to $99 and be posted to the Web for downloading on December 16, according to Datalytics president Jeff Meyer. ... Competition is already getting stiff, however, in the Web acceleration market. As previously reported, Peak Technologies showed off a $29.95 Java application called Peak Net.Jet, which the company says is a "turbocharger for the Internet," last week at Comdex." 11/26/96

AgentNews 1.15

UMBC AgentNews webletter Volume 1,Number 15, November 27, 1996

The Agent Society

The Agent Society has been formed to provide an international industry and professional organization to assist in the widespread development and emergence of Internet and related agent technologies and markets. It's mission, objectives, startup activities, and membership information are portrayed in a draft Prospectus. It's members consist of leading companies and professionals in the agent field, working together under a non-profit international organization aegis. The development and implementation of open intercommunication protocols and interfaces for open intercommunication and interoperability among diverse agents are important means by which a universal, large-scale, open agent environment and marketplace will emerge. The Agent Society supports these initiatives, and encourages rapid design, stabilization, and adoption through Internet, WWW, and other standardization bodies. Initial work is progressing on an Agent Communication Protocol (ACP) and an Agent Transfer Protocol (ATP) in efforts proceeding through the Object Management Group (OMG) standards organization. Other work will proceed in appropriate forums. A one-day conference to consider and further develop this material is anticipated in December and open mailing lists will be established.. For further information on The Agent Society, contact its Secretariat (supported through a donation by General Magic) at +1 703.437.9236. 11/24/96

Instructible agents: Software that just keeps getting better

Instructible agents: Software that just keeps getting better, H. Lieberman and D. Maulsby, IBM Systems Journal, Vol. 35, Nos. 3&4, 1996. Agent software is a topic of growing interest to users and developers in the computer industry. Already, agents and wizards help users automate tasks such as editing and searching for information. But just as we expect human assistants to learn as we work with them, we will also come to expect our computer agents to learn from us. This paper explores the idea of an instructible agent that can learn both from examples and from advice. To understand design issues and languages for human-agent communication, we first describe an experiment that simulates the behavior of such an agent. Then we describe some implemented and ongoing instructible agent projects in text and graphic editing, World Wide Web browsing, and virtual reality. Finally, we analyze the trade-offs involved in agent software and argue that instructible agents represent a ``sweet spot'' in the trade-off between convenience and control. 11/24/96

For want of a bit the user was lost: Cheap user modeling

For want of a bit the user was lost: Cheap user modeling J. Orwant, IBM Systems Journal, Vol. 35, Nos. 3&4, 1996. The more a computer knows about a user, the better it can serve that user. But there are different styles, and even philosophies, of how to teach our computers about us--about our habits, interests, patterns, and preferences. ``Cheap'' user modeling, the subject of this essay, simply means ascertaining a few bits of information about each user, processing that information quickly, and providing the results to applications, all without intruding upon the user's consciousness. In short, there are techniques for personalization that can--and should--be built into today's systems. Like most journal papers, this is a description of an existing system: DOPPELG€NGER. But it is also an exhortation for readers to incorporate the described techniques and philosophy into their own systems. 11/24/96

Argo Technologies Genie InfoSpace

Argo Genie Agent InfoSpace is devoted to the subject of conversational characters such as the Microsoft ("Genie") Agent. Prior to the public appearance of this interactive agent on the web, programming languages such as Java, VBScript, and JavaScript were the primary tools to create interactive content using multimedia technologies. However, conversational characters such as Microsoft Agent bring a new interactive paradigm that opens the gates to many creative ideas. Argo Technologies has an experimental (beta) program, using Microsoft's ActiveX, that allows anyone to develop programs with voice and animation without knowing anything about programming. 11/24/96

IJAI issue on Intelligent Adaptive Agents

Ibrahim F. Imam is editing a special issue of The International Journal Of Applied Intelligence on Intelligent Adaptive Agents to appear in 1998. The deadline for notification of submission is March 15, 1997 and for submission April 10, 1997 Relevant topics include adaptive information agents; learning to adapt and adaptive learning in agents (traditional learning and discovery papers are not included); adaptive planning and execution monitoring in agents; cooperative and competitive adaptation in multiagent societies; adaptive robotics (research on methodologies and techniques that reflect adaptive behaviors on the external actions of the robot/agent); adaptive information agents; and modeling adaptation in intelligent agents. 11/23/96

AAAI-96 workshop on intelligent adaptive agents

The proceedings of the AAAI-96 workshop on intelligent adaptive agents is available in postscript form at 11/23/96

ATAL-97 Workshop

ATAL-97, The Fourth International Workshop on Agent Theories, Architectures, and Languages will be held in conjunction with AAAI in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, July 24-26, 1997. Submissions are due April 18, 1997. The workshop will have three themes: (i) Agent theories: What approaches (e.g., game theory, temporal/modal logic) are appropriate for agent theory? How do these approaches relate to one another?; (ii) Agent architectures: What architectures are appropriate for autonomous agents? How can such architectures be given a formal semantics? How can different agent architectures be evaluated and compared? What methodologies can be used to build agent-based applications? How close are these methodologies to existing formal specification languages or object-oriented analysis and design methods?; and (iii) Agent languages: What programming paradigms are most suitable for agents? How do agent-oriented languages differ from object-oriented and logic programming languages? What are efficient implementation mechanisms for these languages? There will be a special track on methodologies for agent-based systems that will include both full paper presentations and a panel session. 11/21/96

The Technological Singularity

"In Vinge's 'Singularity,' An Oracle of Doom", Ashley Dunn's, New York Times, CyberTimes, November 18, 1996 discusses an interesting paper on The Technological Singularity by Vinge. "...At the VISION-21 Symposium, sponsored by the NASA Lewis Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace institute, Vinge proposed that humanity was approaching a technological singularity beyond which all previous human history would have no meaning. It was a point of transition that would be as shattering as the emergence of human consciousness -- the phenomena that separated mankind from animals so many millenia ago. The spark of the singularity was the increasing capabilities of computers, which, he argued, could soon eclipse the abilities of humans. Vinge proposed that if computers could achieve a level of intelligence equal to humans, it was certain they would also achieve level of super-intelligence and consciousness, possibly in a matter of hours. At that moment of awakening, human history would end. The entities of singularity would be to us, as we are to insects. He predicted that humanity would reach the singularity sometime between 2005 and 2030...." 11/19/96

Software Agents Mailing List

The Software Agents Mailing List is devoted to the issues of software agents, personal digital assistants, software robots, knowbots, intelligent interface agents, etc. The list was begun in 1994 by Ray Johnson, then at the Lockheed Palo Alto AI Center and now at Sun and moved to UMBC in the Fall of 1996. The list is available in two forms -- the regular AGENTS list and the AGENTS-DIGEST list. If you subscribe to the regular agents list, you will get each message posted to the list immediately and if you subscribe to the digest, you will get a periodic digest message containing messages posted since the last digest. To join the mailing list send a message to with subscribe agents or subscribe agents-digest in the body of the message. Messages sent to will be immediately distributed to all of the subscriber to agents, added to the hypermail archive, and added to the current digest for later distribution to the agents-digest subscribers. 11/18/96


DARPA has issued BAA 97-09 -- Collaboration, Visualization, and Information Management (CVIM). Brief proposal abstracts are due by by 12/23/96. The research is to enhance team collaboration through shared information spaces or to advance networked systems for multimedia and multimodal information. One thrust, Intelligent Collaboration and Visualization, is to develop "generation-after-next" collaboration middleware and tools to gather problem solvers across time and space, marshal task-oriented information resources, and enhance collaboration. It includes tools for sharing meaning (metadata for self-describing resources; managing personal and shared information; mapping semantics across domains and languages; indexing and reviewing collaborative sessions; capture of process rules and constraints; and real-time discovery of relevant collaborators and information) and tools for sharing views (e.g., differing map overlays; animation and visualization; and multimedia annotations). Another thrust, Information Management, covers "scalable, interoperable middleware" for managing exponentially growing networked information resources, identifying task-relevant materials, and organizing information for exploitation. It includes analysis environments (acquisition and correlation of multimedia and complex information resources across disciplines and languages, exploiting semantic content, visualization, filtering, search, and retrieval) and scalable, secure, interoperable Information Repositories (registration & security of information resources, access controls, and rights management; automatic classification and federation; distributed service assurance; and exploitation of high bandwidth). 11/19/96


NEWSpot is a free e-mail delivery service from Mercury Mail that delivers custom news summaries. Subscribers can choose from more than 20 categories, including U.S. headline news, world news and special events. Mercury's editorial staff takes the up-to-the-minute newsfeeds from various sources, edits and condenses the information and provides links to the full stories on our web site for those desiring more in-depth information. Three different daily delivery times are available and redundant stories are eliminated.

Jigsaw -- a Java web server

Jigsaw is an HTTP server written in Java by the W3 consortium. It was designed to be portable, extensible and efficient. A third release of the alpha version was made available to non-W3 members early in October 1996. 11/17/96

Aglets and J-AAPI

The alpha 3 release of IBM's Aglets Workbench has been released. An aglet is a Java object that can move from one host on the Internet to another. That is, an aglet can suddenly stop executing on its current host, move to a remote host, and resume execution there. When the aglet moves, it takes along its program code as well as its state (data). The Java Aglet API (J-AAPI) is a proposed standard for interfacing aglets and their environment which is simple, flexible, and stable. It contains methods for initializing an aglet, handling messages, and dispatching, retracting, deactivating/activating, cloning, and disposing of the aglet. 11/16/96


WET ICE '97, "Information Infrastructure for Virtual Environments", the IEEE Sixth Workshops on Enabling Technologies: Infrastructure for Collaborative Enterprises, will be held June 18-20, 1997 at MIT. It will consist of a series of individual workshops running in parallel, each including paper presentations and working group discussions, with the exact format to be determined by the workshop organizer. In addition, there will be joint plenary sessions and a final communal session to summarize each groups' findings. The workshop proposals are sought by November 25 which focus on information and modeling infrastructural issues related to collaboration in diverse application domains. Papers selected should describe survey, original research, design and development, and applications of enabling technologies for collaboration. 11/16/96

Free Common Lisp web server

John C. Mallery of the MIT AI lab has a full-featured, production-quality, HTTP-1.1-compliant web server wholly written in Common Lisp. It is freely available from The server presently runs with full source-compatibility on Macintosh (MCL - Comes on the CD), UNIX (Allegro, LispWorks, Lucid), Windows NT (Allegro), and Lisp Machines (Symbolics 8.3, Open Genera 1.0). Additional ports are underway. This would be a good base for prototyping a server with agent-related features. 11/15/96

4th European Conference on Planning

Fourth European Conference on Planning, ECP '97 (EWSP '97), Toulouse, France, 24/25/26 September 1997. Submission deadline: 3 May 1997. 11/15/96

Aptex's Convectis categorizes Web sites for Infoseek

Aptex categorizes more than 700,000 Web sites for Infoseek -- Web's largest directory.

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 14, 1996-- Aptex Software Inc., a leader in the application of artificial intelligence to Internet information analysis, Thursday announced that its Convectis text analysis server has categorized more than 700,000 Web pages -- an Internet first -- as part of the new generation of Infoseek Corp.'s Internet navigation service, which was announced Thursday. Infoseek's new service now includes the Web's largest directory. Learning from initial human judgments and intermittent human feedback, Convectis acts as an "automated librarian" for Infoseek. Convectis intelligently reads and assigns Web pages to thousands of Infoseek categories.... 11/15/96

Transportable Agents

The Dartmouth Workshop on Transportable Agents was held in September, 1996 at Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire). An on-line proceedings provides copies of the the speaker's slides as well as summaries of the talks and the dicussion periods that followed. 11/11/96

ICMAS'96 PDA experiment

At ICMAS96 (The Second International Conference on Multiagent Systems, December 10th to 13th, Kyoto, Japan), NTT, Kyoto University, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, and Kobe University will jointly exhibit a mobile computing system that provides (1) E-mail, E-forum and Internet access services, (2) conference and tourist information for local sites, and (3) social match making based on participants' profiles and schedules to arrange meetings, teas, dinners and so on. About 100 Sony MagicLink's with handy phones will be loaned to conference participants (free!) to try out the system. The participants can use the PDAs at the conference site, hotels, parks, and so on. Magic Cap is being used on the PDAs and Telescript on servers. For more information enquire at or see 11/4/96

Secret life of intelligent agents

"The secret life of intelligent agents: An introduction, How the next generation of user tools might finally deliver on the longstanding promise of intelligent agents", Damien Miller, Netscape World, November, 1996. Summary: Offline browsers and products like Pointcast are just baby steps towards the dream of harnessing your computer power to help winnow the Internet information overload. The next generation -- coming soon, will not just find, but filter key data for you. This article offers an introduction to what agents are, how they can be used, and what they could mean to the evolution of the Internet. An upcoming issue will look at how you actually implement the technology. (2,600 words). 11/4/96

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