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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

September 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.


The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS) will premier in Jan98, as a peer-reviewed quarterly electronic journal covering economics, sociology, anthropology, geography, organizational theory, political science, social policy, business, organizational and social psychology, cognitive psychology and cognitive science, distributed AI, multi-agent systems, and agent technologies. Free subscriptions for the first year.


inXight is a Xerox spin-off commercializing user interface technology from the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. InXight describes its job as to "Make Information Make Sense" by providing solutions "to the hard problems associated with intelligent information retrieval, analysis and visualization." Two immediate products are LinguistX VizControls which have been licensed to several major customers for use or integration into their own products. VizControls is a suite of user interface components for exploring large amounts of information and includes a hyperbolic tree browser which is a new way to display information in graph oriented form, such as the pages in a web sites. A demonstration shows each page on the Infoseek site represented as a node in the Hyperbolic Tree display. Clicking on a node and dragging it to the center brings the associated links to that page into focus. Other VizControls pruducts include the perspective wall, a way to organize information and documents visually along an x- and y-axis, the cone tree, a way to organize documents in a 3_D conical tree structure, and the table lens which fuses symbolic and graphical representations into a single comprehensible view that can be adjusted by the user. LinguistX is a natural language software package (licensed by Infoseek and Verity) based on decades of computation lingusitics work at PARC. it contains transducers which can provide lingusitic functions including tokenizing, stemming, morphological analysis, tagging, morphological inflection and generation, summarization, and language identification.

Microsoft Agent

Microsoft released the first commercial version of its Interface Agent, Microsoft Agent, a set of software services that supports the presentation of software agents as interactive personalities. MS Agents currently only work on Windows 95 and NT platforms and only with Internet Explorer. It requires three MS downloadable components: the Agent ActiveX control which is used to program the agent and play animations; the Centigram Communications Text-To-Speech (TTS) engine which allows characters to speak; and the Microsoft Command and Control (C&C) engine which supports speech input. The Argo site has a good downloading page. Agent behavior can be programmed in any language that supports the ActiveX interface and examples are available in Visual Basic, VBScript, JavaScript, C/C++, and Java. Some interesting sites using MS Agents are: 9/16/97

Formal Ontology in Information Systems

The International Conference on Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS'98) will be held in Trento, Italy on June 6-8, 1998 in conjunction with the the 6th International Conference on Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning ( KR'98). Those proposing to submit papers must complete a web form by December 15, 1997.

Agents at the University of the Americas

Alfredo Sanchez ( reports that the ongoing work of the Laboratory of Interactive and Cooperative Technologies of the University of the Americas (Puebla, Mexico) emphasizes agent technologies, agent-based user interfaces and digital libraries. Recent papers include:
  • Sanchez, J. A., Lopez, C. A., and Schnase, J. L. 1997. Chrysalis: User agents in the construction of floristic digital libraries. In Proceedings of Primer Encuentro de Computacion (ENC 97) (Queretaro, México, Sept.), forthcoming.
  • Sanchez, J. A., Leggett, J. J. and Schnase, J. L. 1997. AGS: Introducing agents as services provided by digital libraries. In Proceedings of the Second ACM International Conference on Digital Libraries (Philadelphia, PA., July), pp. 75-82.
  • Sanchez, J. A. and Leggett, J. A. 1997. Agent services for users of digital libraries. Journal of Networks and Computer Applications,21, 1, 45-58.
  • Sanchez, J. A. 1997. A Taxonomy of agents. Tech. Rep. ICT-97-1. Laboratory of Interactive and Cooperative Technologies, Department of Computer Systems Engineering, Universidad de las Americas-Puebla. Cholula, Puebla, México.

Communication Concepts for Mobile Agents

Joachim Baumann, Fritz Hohl, Nikolaos Radouniklis, Kurt Rothermel, Markus Straßer, Communication Concepts for Mobile Agent Systems, First International Workshop on Mobile Agents `97, Berlin, Germany. Driven by the question how to identify potential communication partners and the need for well-suited communication schemes inagent-based systems, we discuss two communication concepts: sessions and global event management. Sessions establish either actively or passively a context for inter-agent interactions. Communication partners are addressed by globallyunique agent identifiers or via badges. Communication in sessions is based on RPC or message mechanisms. Global event management addresses the need for anonymous communication. Event managers are employed as a synchronization meanswithin agent groups. Based on this approach, we introduce synchronization objects, - active components that offer varioussynchronization services. The presented model is finally mapped onto OMG event services. 9/16/97

Agent or Zombie?

If you are wondering if that software agent you just interacted with is really a Web Zombie you might check the Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind. DPM is "intended as a free resource to all those interested in the philosophy of mind.". It contains definition of relevant terms and concepts and also offers a list of books and biographies. It is edited by Chris Eliasmith of the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis. The Dictionary is being continuously updated and welcomes submissions which are peer reviewed.

Intelligent Agents on the Internet and Web

International Workshop on Intelligent Agents on the Internet and Web will he held in Mexico City 16 - 20 March 1998 in conjunction with The Fourth World Congress on Expert Systems & International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence , '98. Submit papers by 15 November 1997 to the program chair, Dr San Murugesan,

CMU Text Learning Group

Tom Mitchell's Text Learning Group at CMU has the goal of developing new machine learning algorithms for text and hypertext data. Applications of these algorithms include information filtering systems for the Internet, and software agents that make decisions based on text information. Specific projects include href="">The World Wide Knowledge Base project: converting the web to a giant symbolic knowledge base; WebWatcher: a tour guide for the web, specialized to a site; Personal WebWatcher: a tour guide for the web, specialized to a person; and NewsWeeder: a newsreader that learns your reading interests. (former research project now available as WiseWire ). 9/15/97

FIPA to finalize 2.0 specifications in Munich in October

FIPA, the Foundation for Intelligent Physicial Robots, will have its next meeting in Munich during from October 6 to 10. This meeting is expected to finalizae version 2.0 of the FIPA specifications. Comments on the current specification documents are sought and should be sent by email to Leonardo Chiariglione at Non-FIPA members making substantial comments and/or proposals will be invited to attend the Munich meeting. FIPA is also interested in proposals for demonstration applications to be supported by FIPA 98 (see Prof. Toyoaki Nishida's roadmap ). 9/14/97

An Ontology for Educational Material

This is an interesting tidbit from the 9/14 issue of Edupage, "a summary of news about information technology, is provided three times a week as a service by Educom, a Washington, D.C.-based consortium of leading colleges and universities seeking to transform education through the use of information technology."

    Educom is teaming up with a coalition of academic, industry and government organizations to develop a metadata specification for materials used in higher education, corporate and government training programs, making them easier to find on the Web. The metadata specs provide a common vocabulary for searching and using various components that make up educational or training courseware. Educom is also making available a Java-based tool that will assist content developers in applying the metadata labels to their materials. The metadata specification development is part of Educom's Instructional Management Systems project."



WebGlimpse is a search tool written mostly in Perl developed at the University of Arizona by Udi Manber, Michael Smith, and Burra Gopal and based on glimpse . It attaches a small search box to the bottom of every HTML page, and allows the search to cover the neighborhood of that page or the whole site. With WebGlimpse there is no need to construct separate search pages, and no need to interrupt the users from their browsings. All pages remain unchanged except for the extra search capabilities. It is even possible for the search to efficiently cover remote pages linked from your pages. (WebGlimpse will collect such remote pages to your disk and index them.)

Syskill & Webert

Syskill & Webert is software agent developed by Michael Pazzani, Jack Muramatsu & Daniel Billsus at UC Irvine that learns to rate pages on the World Wide Web (WWW). Its user chooses a topic to explore and rates pages as either hot (thumbs up) or cold (thumbs down). Syskill & Webert uses the rated pages to learn a profile of the user's interests, and it can use the learned profile in two ways. First, Syskill & Webert can analyze all links on a given web page and suggest which links a user would be interested in exploring. Second, Syskill & Webert can automatically construct search engine queries to find pages that are related to the user's topic of interest. The results returned by a search engine can then be automatically evaluated with respect to the learned user profile. See Syskill & Webert: Identifying interesting web sites by Michael Pazzani, Jack Muramatsu & Daniel Billsus for details. 9/13/97


PAAM98, the Third International Conference and Exhibition on The Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi Agents, will be held in London, March 23-25, 1998. Important deadline: Dec 5, 1997 for submitting papers. For further information:


JavaBots is a Java-based software system for mobile robotics research developed in the Intelligent Systems Group at Georgia Tech and used on their winning entry in the AAAI-97 multiagent Find Life on Mars event. The JavaBots distribution includes applications for running robot control systems in simulation and on mobile robots. The simulation application supports both hetero- and homogeneous multi-robot simulations.

JAFMAS Java agent framework

Deepika Chauhan of the University of Cincinnati has developed JAFMAS -- A Java-based Agent Framework for MultiAgent Systems Development and Implementation. It provides a framework for developing multiagent systems along with a set of classes for agent deployment in Java. The framework is intended to help beginning and expert developers structure their ideas into concrete agent applications. It directs development from a speech-act perspective and supports multicast and directed communication, KQML or other speech-act performatives and analysis of multiagent system coherency and consistency.

IEEE Internet Computing issue on agents

IEEE Internet Computing, Vol. 1, No. 4, July/August 1997 is a special issue on Internet-based software agents. It includes the following articles. 9/4/97

Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation

The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation is a new, electronic journal edited by Nigel Gilbert of the University of Surrey which will be launced in January 1998. The journal aims to "contribute to the exploration and understanding of social processes by means of computer simulation." and seeks submitted papers "which apply computational simulation to problems in the social sciences, address current issues concerning theories, tools and techniques for social simulation, and report studies of artificial societies which enhance our understanding of social processes." 9/4/97

The Future of Software Agents

As part of its recent issue on Internet-based software agents (July/August 1997), the IEEE Internet Computing magazine's Virtual Roundtable on The Future of Software Agents gave some leading figures (Mani Chandy, Danny Lange, Pattie Maes, John Ousterhout, Jeff Rosenschein, Sankar Virdhagriswaran, and James White) an opportunity to address the following questions:
  • Are there any problems that you see agents, and agents alone, solving in the next few years?
  • What other technologies do you think will have the greatest impact on the directions of agent technology?
  • When do you think agent technology will make the breakthrough for the developer? For the "normal" computer user?
  • Do you think the confusion surrounding the definition of an "agent" is a positive or negative thing?
  • Do you see an impending collision or cohesion with regard to agent technology and the World Wide Web? Distributed Objects?
  • Who is responsible if an agent program violates copyright law, destroys data, causes hardware or software to fail?
  • How do users monitor the status of an agent and how can they stop it if it goes awry?

Agents in AppleScript?

The August 18 issue of MicroTimes (#168) discusses agents in their monthly Small Office/Home Office column by By Birrell Walsh. The column, entitle Talk To My Agent -- AppleScript And Customized Tasks touches on using Applescript to write simple agent-like scripts. 9/1/97

Intelligent Access to Heterogeneous Information

The proceedings of the 4th Workshop on Intelligent Access to Heterogeneous Information (KRDB-97) held in Athens, Greece, August 30, 1997 in conjunction with VLDB-97 is available on-line. Some representative papers are: 9/1/97

AgentWeb is maintained at the UMBC Lab for Advanced Information Technology by Tim Finin (