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October 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.

Anthropologically-Based Cultural Descriptions of MAS

Bordini, R.H.; Campbell, J.A. & Vieira, R. (1996). Ascribing Intensional Ontologies in Anthropologically-Based Cultural Descriptions of Multi-Agent Systems. In "Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS'96)", Kyoto, Japan, 9-13 December, 1996. Extended abstract, to appear. [RN/96/69].
<h3>Net Angels</h3> "The Angel turns the overwhelming Internet universe into a world personalized specifically for you. Your personal Angel profiles you and intelligently recommends places on the web that will interest you. You view these recommendations on your own World Page, and you can also store and access them in Angel Marks NetAngels' state-of-the-art bookmarking database." 10/31/96

Bot Spot calls itself "the spot for all the bots on the web." Its purpose is to inform users of the latest bots and Internet agents available.10/31/96

Automated Negotiation in State Oriented Domains

Zlotkin, G. and Rosenschein, J.S. (1996), "Mechanisms for Automated Negotiation in State Oriented Domains", Journal of AI Research, Volume 5, pages 163-238. Abstract: This paper lays part of the groundwork for a domain theory of negotiation, that is, a way of classifying interactions so that it is clear, given a domain, which negotiation mechanisms and strategies are appropriate. We define State Oriented Domains, a general category of interaction. Necessary and sufficient conditions for cooperation are outlined. We use the notion of worth in an altered definition of utility, thus enabling agreements in a wider class of joint-goal reachable situations. An approach is offered for conflict resolution, and it is shown that even in a conflict situation, partial cooperative steps can be taken by interacting agents (that is, agents in fundamental conflict might still agree to cooperate up to a certain point).

A Unified Negotiation Protocol (UNP) is developed that can be used in all types of encounters. It is shown that in certain borderline cooperative situations, a partial cooperative agreement (i.e., one that does not achieve all agents' goals) might be preferred by all agents, even though there exists a rational agreement that would achieve all their goals.

Finally, we analyze cases where agents have incomplete information on the goals and worth of other agents. First we consider the case where agents' goals are private information, and we analyze what goal declaration strategies the agents might adopt to increase their utility. Then, we consider the situation where the agents' goals (and therefore stand-alone costs) are common knowledge, but the worth they attach to their goals is private information. We introduce two mechanisms, one 'strict', the other 'tolerant', and analyze their affects on the stability and efficiency of negotiation outcomes. 10/29/96

Microsoft Agent

ActiveX for interactive software agents
Microsoft Agent is a set of software services that supports the presentation of software agents (applications that operate on the user's behalf) as interactive personalities within the Microsoft Windows interface. By providing support for visual personalities, Microsoft Agent facilitates a new form of user interaction known as a conversational interface. A conversational interface attempts to leverage natural aspects of human dialogue and social interaction (also known as a social user interface), and make user interfaces more appealing and approachable for a wider variety of users."

"The conversational interface approach facilitated by the Microsoft Agent services is not a replacement for an application's conventional graphical user interface design; it is an extension and enhancement of the existing interactive modalities of the Windows interface. Microsoft Agent services are not intended as an exclusive interface any more than a mouse is a replacement for the keyboard. Character interaction can be blended with the conventional interface components such as windows, menus, and controls. Therefore, Microsoft Agent services can be used to enhance the interface of an existing application or as the exclusive interface."

( It looks like this is mainly support for simple animation to accompany interactions driven by conventional programs. -- ed) 10/28/96

Off-line browsing agents

TechWeb has a page on off-line web browsing agents. Beyond Browsing--Offline Web Agents by Joel T. Patz. "Tired of waiting for web pages to download? Offline web agents are designed to log on, get the information you need, and log off while you are performing other tasks. They come in a variety of flavors, but the most popular are designed to log onto a web site, roam through a user-definable set of levels (that is, you control how many levels of links are followed) and return the pages to your hard disk, where you can read them at your leisure. ..." The page identifies seven systems -- Folio Web Retriever 2.0, The PointCast Network 1.1, Smart Bookmarks 2.0, WebEx 1.01, WebWhacker 2.0, Freeloader 2.0, METZ Netriever 1.1 -- and includes a head-to-head comparison and a feature chart. 10/15/96

Another agent named Bob

Customized searching goes beyond the net. Gerd Meissner, who helped customize the German edition of Edupage, has developed a search service called BOB, The Human Search Engine, which combines searches of the Net with searches beyond the Net, to help you when you're looking for such things as: a special German saying? A bookstore in Bavaria? Or an old pal's address in Paderborn? From the requests made by private users, schools and non-profit organizations, the service chooses at least one every week to research and answer via e-mail -- for free. U.S. customers are welcome. The address is or [from Edupage, 22 October 1996] 10/23/96

Browser Buddy

Browser Buddy bu Softbots, an Internet software agent that does WWW page fetching according to your specifications. It also helps you setup your URL collections so that they are hierarchically organized and augmented with descriptive notes. URL collections are saved in a "Choices" file for later use. To specify what you want to fetch, you open a Choices file and "select" URLs by double clicking on their labels in the URL area of the display. 10/19/96

Identify and IDML

Identify is a system done by Emerge Consulting (Palo Alto) for finding products and pages that use IDML to identify themselves. IDML is a SGML-compliant markup language that gives Internet marketers and publishers a standard way to identify themselves, their content, and their products. Content creators insert IDML markup that describe the contents of a page or objects on the page interspersed with the HTML and content . Browsers will ignore the IDML but IDML-savvy indexing agents can use it to better understand the content. Identify is the site where IDML tags from the world over are indexed and available. With Identify, users can find products and information using the simple and powerful Identify engine. Users can query solid information that the publishers provide themselves.

The current IDML language has just four tags (ID-PUBLISHER, ID-INFO, ID-PRODUCT, ID-SYSTEM) that can be used to describe a page or object, each of which has a handful of attributes. The big question, of course, is how to manage the growth and acceptance of the underlying ontologies. 10/19/96


The Columbia JAM Project is building an infrastructure for launching Java-based learning agents over network-based information systems that then spawn learned "classifier agents". These classifier agents migrate to other sites and are combined by "meta-learning". The resultant "meta-classfier agents" can then migrate as well to harvest additional knowledge from other agents. The particular application under study involves fraud and intrusion detection in financial information systems. This work is being done in collaboration with the Financial Services Technology Consortium, a not-for-profit R&D organization whose members include many of the nation's largest banks and associated vendor community. 10/16/96

DARPA Advanced Simulation program

DARPA's Advanced Simulation Technology Thrust program is focused on modeling synthetic military forces in simulated environments. Relevant AI/agent technologies including multi-agent collaborative decision making, collaboration/communication between humans and agents, action selection and planning, behavioral "realism" (model effects of stress and other factors on performance), adaptation and learning, etc. Proposals are due approximately 30 days from the CBD announcement on 9/23/96. 10/15/96

DAI in Medicine on the WWW

Artificial Intelligence in Medicine will have a special issue on Distributed Artificial Intelligence in Medicine over the World Wide Web which will include papers investigating aspects of the enabling potential of the WWW to support the development of distributed AI applications in Medicine, including distributed ai architectures in medicine over the WWW and agent-based medical applications using the WWW. Papers should be submitted by March 30th, 1997. 10/15/96

DARPA HPKB program

The DARPA High Performance Knowledge Bases (HPKB) program is aimed at producing the technology needed to enable system developers to rapidly construct very large knowledge-bases that provide comprehensive coverage of topics of interest, are reusable by multiple applications with diverse problem-solving strategies, and are maintainable in rapidly changing environments. It is envisioned that the process for constructing these large, comprehensive, reusable, and maintainable knowledge bases would involve three major steps: building foundation knowledge; acquiring domain knowledge; and efficient problem solving. (BAA 96-43. CBD Reference: October 3, 1996. Close Date: December 2, 1996).

DC Software Agents conference Dec 3-4

The Education Foundation of the Data Processing Management Association is sponsoring a two day conference on Software Agents -- Technologies and Applications on December 3-4, 1996 in Washington, DC.

Do I Care?

Do-I-Care: A Collaborative Web Agent, Brian Starr, Mark S. Ackerman, and Michael Pazzani, Proceedings of the ACM CHI'96 Conference, April, 1996. Abstract: Social filtering and collaborative resource discovery mechanisms often fail because of the extra burden, even tiny, placed on the user. This work proposes an innovative World Wide Web agent that uses a model of collaboration that leverages the natural incentives for individual users to easily provide for collaborative work. 10/13/96

Auto-FAQ: an experiment in cyberspace leveraging

Auto-FAQ: an experiment in cyberspace leveraging , Steven D. Whitehead, GTE Laboratories Incorporated. Abstract "... This paper explores the idea of harnessing computer networks to overcome the knowledge acquisition bottleneck. We introduce the idea of a CYLINA (CYberspace Leveraged INtelligent Agent) --- an intelligent system that gains knowledge/information through interactions with a large population of network users. Instead of depending on the big efforts of a few knowledge engineers, CYLINAs rely on small, incremental contributions from a global population of experts. Our thesis is that the shear volume of interaction will allow significant knowledge to be acquired in a short amount of time. ... A version of Auto-FAQ is currently operating on a private network at GTE Laboratories. The system is currently able to answer basic questions about itself, WWW, and Mosaic. Future plans are to make Auto-FAQ and its associated software available on the global Internet."10/13/96

FIPA seeks technology proposals

The Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents seeks proposals for technologies usable in a selected number of emerging agent-based applications and services, specifically in four categories: personal assistant, personal travel assistance, audio-visual entertainment, and broadcasting network provisioning and management. The proposed technologies are intended to be used in the development of specifications of component technologies that may be used for first implementations in these areas. The time scale of specification development is 1997. The deadline for proposal submission is 10 January 1997 for consideration at the fourth FIPA meeting on 20-24 January 1997.

IEEE Internet Computing

IEEE Internet Computing is a new bimonthly magazine from the IEEE Computer Society designed to help the engineer productively use the ever expanding technologies and resources of the Internet. Charles Petrie is serving as the inaugural Editor-in-Chief. Internet Computing and IC on-line will provide the engineer with the latest developments in Internet-based computer applications and supporting technologies such as the World Wide Web, Java programming, and Internet-based agents. Through the use of peer-reviewed articles as well as essays, interviews, and roundtable discussions, IC will address the Internet's widening impact on engineering practice and society. Topics include system engineering issues such as mobile agents, agent message protocols, engineering ontologies, web scaling, intelligent search, on-line catalogs, distributed document authoring, electronic design notebooks, electronic libraries, security, remote instruction, distributed project management, reusable service access and validation, electronic commerce, and Intranets. Editorial board members Munindar Singh and Michael Huhns will edit a special issue on agents with a submission deadline of March 15, 1997.

Agent Transfer Protocol

Agent Transfer Protocol (ATP) is an application-level standard protocol for distributed agent-based information systems. Aimed at the Internet and using Universal Resource Locators (URL) for agent resource location, ATP offers a uniform and platform-independent protocol for transferring agents between networked computers. While mobile agents may be written in many different languages and for a variety of vendor-specific agent systems, ATP offers the opportunity to handle agent mobility in a general and uniform way. For example, any agent host machine will have a single and unique name independent of the set of vendor-specific agent systems it supports. ATP also provides a uniform agent transport mechanism and allows a standard agent query facility to be used throughout the network. A draft specification document is available. 10/1/96

Software Agents: An Overview

  • Hyacinth S. Nwana (1996), Software Agents: An Overview, The Knowledge Engineering Review Vol 11 (3). (postscript 2.6M) Abstract: Agent software is a rapidly developing area of research. However, the 'overuse' of the word agent has tended to mask the fact that, in reality, there is a truly heterogeneous body of research being carried out under this banner. This overview paper presents a typology of agents. It places them in context, defines them and then goes on, inter alia, to overview critically the rationales, hypotheses, goals, challenges and state-of-the-art demonstrators of the various agent types in the typology. Hence, it attempts to make explicit much of what is usually implicit in the agents literature. It also proceeds to overview some other general issues which pertain to all the types of agents in the typology. This paper largely reviews software agents, and it also contains some strong opinions that are not necessarily widely accepted by the agent community. [42 pages] 10/1/96
  • Cooperative filtering and sharing of information

    Beehive: A system for cooperative filtering and sharing of information, Bernardo A. Huberman and Michael Kaminsky, Xerox PARC, August, 1996, (9 pages). Abstract: We have designed and implemented a distributed system for social sharing and filtering of information. It relies on the automatic recording of the behavior and interactions of members of communities of practice. The system automatically updates membership in informal communities at regular intervals and provides a simple and intuitive interface for distributing relevant information among its members. 10/1/96

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