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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

January 1997

This file is a list of items added to the UMBC agents pages this month and is in maintained chronological order. Past months: January 1997, December 1996, 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.

Summer school on information extraction

Summer school on information extraction (SCIE-97), University of Roma, Tor Vergata, Villa Mondragone Frascati, Roma, Italy, 14-19 July 1997. "Aim of the school is to bring together researchers and practicioners of the different scientific areas involved in Information Extraction (Natural Language Processing, Information Retrieval, Machine Learning, Statistics, ...) to stress its multidisciplinary nature." 1/29/97

Operating System support for Mobile Object Systems

MOBILE OBJECT SYSTEMS: Operating System support for Mobile Object Systems -- Jyvaskyla, Finland, June 9-10, 1997. " The goal of this workshop is to explore new directions in operating systems as well as the synergy with mobile computations and object-oriented programming languages. Thus we will identify needs of mobile programs and how these can be met by the innovative operating system designs." Topics include: operating systems for mobile computations; programming language support for mobility; security mechanisms and policies for mobile computations; portable intermediate representations; communication mechanisms; and management of mobile object systems. Submission deadline is April 5, 1997. This workshop is held in conjunction with the 11th European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (June 9-13). 1 29/97

Protocol for meta-search engines

STARTS -- Stanford Protocol Proposal for Internet Search and Retrieval -- is the result of an informal "standards" effort that coordinated at Stanford by Luis Gravano, Kevin Chang, Hector Garcia-Molina, Carl Lagoze, and Andreas Paepcke. The project developed a simple protocol that text search engines should follow to facilitate searching and indexing multiple collections of text documents. 1/29/97

Mobile Agents 97

The First International Workshop on Mobile Agents 97 (MA'97) will be held in Berlin, Germany on April 7 - 8, 1997 in conjunction with ISADS 97 , the 3rd International Symposium on Autonomous Decentralized Systems (April 9 - 11, 1997, Berlin, Germany). 1/29/97

Coordination languages, models, systems

A minitrack on Coordination languages, models, systems in the Software Technology Track of the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-31) will focus on abstract coordination paradigms, coordination language design, coordination models and mechanisms for distributed programming, and coordination applications and systems. Topics of interest include:
  • Coordination problems within concurrent, distributed, object oriented, functional and logic programming
  • Architectural description languages, and coordination of software architecture case studies
  • Software architectures and middleware for the development of coordination applications
  • Semantics and reasoning about coordination
  • Coordination mechanisms for WWW and multiagent systems
300-word abstracts are due March 17, 1997 with full papers due June 2, 1997. 1/28/97

NCSA digital library experients

DIGITAL LIBRARIES: THE FUTURE. From Edupage 1-27-97. " The vision of computers powerful enough to organize and index huge treasure troves of scientific literature using intelligent functions such as "vocabulary switching" -- classifying an article that mentions "Unix" under "operating systems" even if the words "operating systems" do not appear in the article -- is finally coming to fruition, 32 years after it was first outlined in J.C.R. Licklider's "Libraries of the Future" (1965). Large-scale simulations on the HP Convex Exemplar supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications have resulted in generating concept spaces for 10 million journal abstracts across 1,000 subject areas covering all engineering and science disciplines -- the largest vocabulary switching computation ever achieved in information science. Future developments will require automatic indexing with scaleable semantics to coordinate searches among the one billion repositories likely in the next century. (Science 17 Jan 97 p327)" 1/28/97

Intelligent Data Analysis

Intelligent Data Analysis is a new fully electronic, Web-based international journal published by Elsevier Science Inc. Editor Fazel Famili states in the initial issue:
Our goal is to publish a high quality WEB-based journal. The submission process is all electronic. Each article will be reviewed by at least two reviewers. Our intention is also to have 70% of articles in applied research and 30% theoretical.

Our plan at this time is to publish four issues per year. The four issues will be available in January, April, July, and October. Each issue will consist of 4 to 5 articles. Depending on the number of high quality articles accepted, this may change in the future--either by increasing the number of articles per issue or the number of issues per year. We may also decide to publish each article as soon as it is ready and, for archival and reference purposes, organize articles into quarterly issues. ...

The IDA journal will offer a number of new features that are not currently available in paper journals: (i) an alerting service notifying subscribers of new papers in the journal, (ii) links to large-scale data collections, (iii) links to secondary collection of data related to material presented in the journal, (iv) the ability to test new search mechanisms on the collection of journal articles, (v) links to related bibliographic material, and (vi) inclusion of 3-D objects and multiple color graphs."



Edupage, 1-23-97. "The newest high-tech consumer fad in Japan is tamagochii, an electronic bird creature which starts life as an endearing, bird-like image on the screen of an egg-shaped key ring device, and then changes from a chick to a fully grown adult in around 10 days. However, the owner must push the right buttons to feed, groom and soothe the digital creature or else see it waste away and die from neglect. (Vancouver Province 23 Jan 97 A27)" 9/25/97

Agelts workbench

The fourth alpha release of IBM's Aglets Workbench is now available. Aglets provide a framework for mobile Java agents and are the basis for a proposed standard Agent Transfer Protocol. There is also a new mailing list for agletss -- . See for more informion.

Workshop on Open Agent Platforms and Protocols

The Agent Society is sponsoring a 1 1/2 day design workshop on Open Intelligent Agent Platforms and Protocols using an informal "IETF BOF" style. The workshop will be held on February 9th and 10th (immediately after the Autonomous Agents '97 conference) at the Marina Beach Marriot Hotel, Marina del Rey CA USA. The purpose is to pull together interested parties to produce a "Standards Roadmap for Open Agent Platforms, Communication and Interoperability." There is no charge for the workshop; but space is limited and registration is requested. The Agent Society is a new organization to facilitate cooperation, and information exchange among the agent community and the public, and will hold an organizational meeting the evening of 9 Feb. 1/25/97

Metabot meta-search engine

Metabot is a java-based client server application that performs a parallel search of popular web search engines and deletes the duplicate entries, while leaving descriptions intact. Metabot allows users to deploy crawler bots to examine each page returned in the initial search. The 'bots' examine the returned links for email addresses, images, ftp/http links, audio files, shockwave files, and other web-based media and dynamically build a web page with links to the files or objects. 1/25/97

CIA '97

The First International Workshop on COOPERATIVE INFORMATION AGENTS will be held on 26th (Wed) - 28th (Fri) of February 1997 at the University of Kiel. The advance program and additonal information is available at 1/25/97

Muti-agent Systems for Design

A workshop on Multi-agent Systems in Design will be held in conjuction with the 4th Conference of Knowledge-based Systems (XPS97) March 5-7 1997 in Bonn, Germany. The workshop is organized in two phases -- a virtual workshop where the participants communicate over a shared workspace and a physical workshop for the discussion of the results of the virtual workshop. SOr more information contact Oliver Hoffmann at 1/25/97

Push channel filters

Verity Inc. and Tierra Communications have developed products that filter data channels "pushed" to Web users from content-delivery companies. Verity's product will expand its search engine's agent technology to allow users to fine-tune the information they receive by creating a profile for what they want to receive off of a Web site's channel. Tierra is developing a server-based model of its Highlights browser utility, which monitors Web content and matches users' profiles on a dynamic basis. "Verity and Tierra both have pieces of the puzzle. Verity has filtering and back-end expertise, and Tierra has a nice client with a channel-type metaphor that works great with browsers," says a Forrester Research analyst. [Edupage] MORE from InfoWorld Electric 10 Jan 97.

Agents'97 conference full

The First International Conference on Autonomous Agents, (Marina del Rey, California, February 5-8) 1997 is completely full and registration has closed. registrations received after the January 10th advanced registration deadline are being processed in the order received, until the conference is fully booked. Interested people who are unable to attend the conference will have the option of purchasing the conference materials. 1/19/97

Workshop on Mobile Intelligent Agent Standards

The Agent Society ia planning a two-day Workshop on Mobile Intelligent Agent Standards for early February 1997 to focus on needs, architectures, specifications and issues associated with the use and interoperability of mobile intelligent agents across all Internet and Intranet platforms. For further information send email to or phone its temporary Secretariat at +1 408.774.6950. 1/19/97.

OMG Mobile Agent Facility

The OMG has an RPF for a Data Interchange Facility and Mobile Agent Facility RFP.
    "The Data Interchange Facility is a facility supporting interoperability between objects. The key elements of the service include the data interchange interfaces, the data object type, the life cycle of data objects, and the data translation interfaces. The use of metadata is another important area. In order to implement mobile agents, three key features need to be supported by ORB: launching and loading of agents on what is traditionally thought of as the client side of the ORB, time asynchrony, and ORB notifying senders and receivers of arrival of packets intended for them. The mobile agent facility proposes these changes."
GMD FOKUS, IBM and The Open Group have submitted a response ( OMG TC Document cf/96-12-01, Draft 5). An evaluation entitled An Assessment of the Mobile Agent Facility Proposal has been written by by Cynthia Tham, Barry Friedman, Jim White and Tony Rutkowski all of General Magic Inc. 1/19/97

Shaking Hands

Vishal Mehra and Daniel Dias of IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center have released an alpha version of Shaking Hands -- a new collaborative application architecture that supports collaboration over the World Wide Web. Shaking Hands provides a single method and location for real-time access to both a collaborative application and its associated data. All components of a Shaking Hands collaborative application reside on the network. Users "join" a collaborative application, gaining access to both the application and the data from the same network-based Java server. Shaking Hands comes with several collaborative applications including a foil server, a white board, a chat server and a network gaming server. 1/19/97

Internet Dreams

Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths, and Metaphors, Mark Stefik, MIT Press, November 1996 350 pp., 24 illus. $27.50 ISBN 0-262-19373-6. "The stakes are high: metaphors can have an impact on the legal and policy aspects of the future of the Internet as well as its technical design and economic structure. Internet Dreams illuminates not only how the Net is being created, but also stories about ourselves as our lives become electronically interconnected. Ancient myths meet modern networks. Carl Jung and others maintain that our dreams speak to us in terms of archetypes and symbols. These symbols are often universal. They reveal much about our common humanity and how we see ourselves. These symbols also appear in our patterns of speech, reflecting in our choice of metaphor how we shape our understanding of things. Mark Stefik explores some of the most provocative writings about the Internet to tease out the deeper metaphors and myths. He finds four persistent metaphors: digital library, electronic mail, electronic marketplace, and digital world. These metaphors are based on ancient myths and archetypes that have influenced human thinking for thousands of years: keeper of knowledge (the digital library), communicator (electronic mail), the trader (electronic marketplace), and the adventurer (digital world). Recast in the setting of high technology they are still powerful guides, capable of refreshing our sense of direction and purpose in creating the Internet. Mark Stefik is Principal Scientist, Information Sciences and Technology Laboratory, Xerox PARC. 1/11/97

Workshop on Metadata registries

The Joint Workshop on Metadata Registries will be held on July 8-11, 1997 at the University of California, Berkeley and will address improving access to and sharing of data by harmonizing metadata standards and developing interoperable metadata registries accessible by the World Wide Web. Detailed recommendations will be developed for registries of data element metadata and higher-level metadata (e.g., for schemas, models, and metamodels). The workshop will bring together researchers in formal methods (from the knowledge representation and database communities), and other researchers and practitioners from the database research, standards, metadata registry, middleware and database vendor, GIS, EDI, and digital library communities. Submit papers and abstracts by March 7, 1997.

User Modeling Inc.

Alfred Kobsa ( reports that User Modeling, Inc. (UM Inc) has implemented several new services for the user modeling community, including - comprehensive information about UM Inc's International Conferences on User Modeling, including workshop results and some electronic proceedings articles; - highly discounted individual subscriptions to the journal "User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction"; - an email distribution list for announcements of the organization; and - pointers to many other international resources in the area of user modeling and adaptation to the user. More information thereon can be found in UM Inc's new web pages at 1/167/97

Skull pins keep wigs in place

Gregory Sorkin, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center (Hawthorne), comments on the London Times article mentioned in AgentNews 1.18
"I am familiar with the London Times article to which Mr. Rosbach refers, and which quotes me. (The Sunday Times, 1 Dec 1996, Innovations: Bits & Bytes, "Software hunts and kills Net viruses". Curiously, the same section includes articles entitled "Skull pins keep wigs in place" and "Cheeseburgers are rich in cancer-fighting compounds, and can be seen at sti/96/12/01/stiinnbit01003.html?1483095.) The article is not an accurate account of IBM AntiVirus. As far as I know I was not interviewed for the article, even though I was quoted by name.

It is true that IBM AntiVirus contains a neural network which detects new viruses by generalizing from old ones. It is also true that we are building towards an "immune system for cyberspace", whose functions will include an automated analysis of any new virus detected on a machine, and transmission of the results --- notably a procedure for removing the virus --- to affiliated machines. The prototype software is undergoing extensive testing, and will not be released until we are confident of its reliability.

We would of course never design a program to spread to any system whose owner hadn't explicitly arranged for it to be there, nor do we have any release scheduled for this week.

For those interested in the technical details, let me also mention that temporal difference learning has nothing to do with the neural network in IBM AntiVirus. Temporal difference learning was used for the very powerful backgammon-playing neural network developed by Gerry Tesauro, and Gerry also helped develop the anti-viral neural net, but there is no other connection between the backgammon network and the anti-viral one.

For more information about computer viruses in general and IBM AntiVirus in particular, please see


Cooperative Information Systems

Second IFCIS International Conference on Cooperative Information Systems, Kiawah Island (Charleston), South Carolina, USA, June 24-27 1997. The Second IFCIS International Conference on Cooperative Information Systems (CoopIS) is the premier event in Cooperative Information Systems. It is sponsored by the International Foundation on Cooperative Information Systems (IFCIS), and replaces the erstwhile international workshops on Interoperability in Multidatabase Systems (IMS) and the conference series on Cooperative Information Systems (CoopIS & ICICIS). 1/16/96

I seek you

ICQ ("I seek you") is a freeware Internet tool that alerts you in real time when somebody you know goes online. Using a unique identification and search system, ICQ monitors a list of contacts for active connections, thereby allowing you to chat, send messages and files, and even establish network games without the usual hit and miss routine. The program runs in the background on a Windows 95/NT system. ICQ supports most popular Web browsers and email clients, as well as a variety of external Internet applications such as NetMeeting and VDOPhone. Features include the ability to transfer files directly to another user, chat in both IRC and split-screen styles, quickly and automatically exchange bookmarks, "hide" from other users (allow only authorized people to know that you're online), and provide World Wide Pager access to others. 1/16/97

Office Assistants for MS Office 97

FunArts Software is the creator of "Office Assistants" for Microsoft Office '97. Robby Kilgore and Maz Kessler have been involved in the development and production of software agents since 1993. In early 1995 they became Creative Directors of the newly formed Social User Interface group at Microsoft. Recent work includes a suite of fully animated help agents for Office '97. In addition to designing the behavioral architecture for the underlying services, Maz & Kilgore produced and directed some of America's foremost animators, including Academy Award winning Joan Gratz, Danger Productions, and International Rocketship. 1/15/97

IntelliSense in Microsoft Office 97

IntelliSense for Microsoft Office 97 provides some agent-oriented help facilities. "Every time Microsoft conducts customer research, customers overwhelmingly indicate that they care most about the software's ease of use. Through IntelliSense'a technology, Microsoft Office software "understands" the context of an end≠user's actions, recognizes the user's intent, and automatically produces the correct result. It helps to raise the bar on measures of ease of use. IntelliSense features fall into three main categories: Automating routine tasks; Simplifying complex tasks; and Personalizing the software and enhancing discoverability. Microsoft first included IntelliSense in Office 4.0 in 1993. As each new version of Microsoft Office is developed, Microsoft looks for new ways to incorporate IntelliSense into the products. This whitepaper explores how IntelliSense in Office 97 makes it easier for users to get their work done. 1/15/97

Toon-zombies at the tiller?

An Upgraded Leviathan Sets Sail , Stephen Manes, New Your Times Cybertimes, January 14, 1997.

"Batten down the hard drive! Microsoft Office 97 will officially arrive on Thursday with a bag of new features even bigger than the usual upgrade. Many are useful and potentially important, like a cornucopia of options involving hypertext and the Internet. But pesky cartoon critters descended from the late and unlamented Microsoft Bob get in the way.
Office 97 is a Leviathan of a program that in a "typical" installation requires more than 120 megabytes of hard disk space. Offering to sell your soul to the devil provided you could first finish examining Office's every nook and cranny would lead to a long, long life. In a space smaller than a single help page, it is all a hapless reviewer can do to record a few general impressions.

The new Office Assistant feature offers something Office has never had before: a help facility that makes reasonable guesses about what you might be looking for in a particular situation. Unfortunately, that help is presented solely in the form of dialogue balloons attached to one of eight cartoon characters, most of which make irrelevant, distracting movements and sounds until you turn them off.

But these toon-zombies are as insistent on popping up again as Wile E. Coyote. If you want to use certain functions, like the sometimes helpful natural-language search function introduced in Office 95, or get certain special information, like expanded examples of grammatical errors, you must turn on the cartoon channel. Unless customers insist that Microsoft exorcise the ghost of the undead Bob, customized cartoons (perhaps a jittery version of your company's logo) may one day be your only route to help." 1/14/97

AI in Digital Libraries

IJCAI-97 Workshop on AI in Digital Libraries, Nagoya Congress Center Nagoya, Japan, August 23, 1997. Short papers (5-8 pages) are sought describing novel AI algorithms and techniques applied to Digital libraries including software agents for resource discovery, knowledge and metadata representation, interoperability, cooperative information systems, and information economies. Papers are also sought describing real world digital libraries which employ embedded AI technology, or well supported and imaginative visionary papers discussing future challenges and directions are requested. Also of interest are review papers (5-8 pages), particularly those which address linkages between AI and other pertinent fields of study such as the information and library sciences. Submission deadline is February 14, 1997. 1/13/97

Future of AI and the Internet

IJCAI-97 Workshop on The Future of AI and the Internet, August 24, Nagoya, Japan. The aim of this workshop is to discuss the medium to long-term research agenda for Artificial Intelligence on the Internet. Workshop participants will be expected to take a position on the central question: "What aspect of AI will play an important role on the Internet in the next 5-10 years, and why?" The workshop will take the shape of a debate on the current state, future promise, and overall importance of different research areas. Electronic submissions, not longer than 10 printed pages for full papers, or 3 pages for short position papers, are due by February 19, 1997. 1/12/96

Bionic Cockroaches

Bionic Cockroaches Might Make Good Bugs. Wired News BRIEF 8:00 pm PST 9 Jan 97. A team of Japanese scientists has been awarded US$5 million to continue research into bionic cockroaches. The bio-robot research team at Tokyo University has been breeding American cockroaches, then surgically implanting them with tiny "backpacks" that weigh one-tenth of an ounce and contain microprocessors and electrodes. Signals sent to the electrodes jolt the hardy bugs and make them turn left or right, or run forward or backward. Researchers hope the bionic bugs will be well suited to crawling into earthquake rubble to find victims, or into tight spaces to aid in espionage and surveillance operations. 1/9/97

Adaptive hypertext

ADAPTIVEHH@UTS.EDU.AU is a mailing list for discussions about issues relating to the principles, design and development of adaptive computer-based learning environments based on hypertext or hypermedia. Encompassing student modelling, knowledge representation, teaching architectures, adaptive methods and techniques, learning theory, and working systems. It's available as an immediate message list and in digest form. Subscribe by sending a message with the word "subscribe" in the body to either ADAPTIVEHH-REQUEST@UTS.EDU.AU or ADAPTIVEHH-DIGEST-REQUEST@UTS.EDU.AU Only subscribers are allowed to mail messages to the list. 1/8/97

Personalized news services

Gert Braakman ( has compiled an extensive list of personalized news services which he posted to the mailing list on 19 Dec 1996. The notes document personalized news services (e.g., My Yahoo!, Infoseek "My News", etc.), personalized news services using information push technology (e.g., Pointcast, BackWeb, etc.), services using publish and subscribe technology (Intermind), traditional newspapers offering personalized news (e.g., WSJ, LAT SJMN, etc.), clipping services (e.g., Clickshare), surf assistants or net agents (e.g., Netangel, More like this, etc.), and Internet robots and agents (e.g., Autonomy Agentware, Webtamer, Netattache Pro, etc.). 1/7/97


Business Wire article on AGENTS-97, DEC 18,1996. "The First International Conference on Autonomous Agents -- Agents '97. Business Editors & Computer Writers. LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 18, 1996--Computer experts from around the world will gather in Los Angeles in early February to hear about autonomous agents -- one of the most important software breakthroughs of the 1990s.... 1/7/97

Socially Intelligent Agents

1/7/97 A AAAI Symposium on Socially Intelligent Agents will be held the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 7-9, 1997. This symposium aims to focus on the issue of social expertise which has been discussed so far in different research areas like psychology, sociology, biology, artificial intelligence and robotics. In particular, we wish to address the origins and development of social expertise with respect to the concrete realization of an artificial system. This includes both the external behavior and the internal cognitive and motivational abilities of an agent. The concepts discussed should include both software and hardware agents, in both natural and synthetic environments. The discussions focus on cross-technological concepts (excluding those restricted to a specific hardware or software technology). 1/1/97

The Weekly Pheromone

1/7/97 The Weekly Pheromone is a weekly email newsletter of the Swarm project at the Santa Fe Institute. It stands to inform users of the activities and goals of the hive and user community. Contributions are accepted that announce Swarm-related events or activities in any of the growing Swarm colonies around the world. Inquiries, subscription requests and contributions should be sent to 1/7/97

Intelligent Agents at IBM TJ Watson

Intelligent Agents Project at IBM T.J. Watson Research: -- Embeddable Intelligent Agents for Networked Applications, including Internet. "Our mission is to develop intelligent agent technology that is highly reusable and easy to integrate with a broad spectrum of networked applications. Towards this end, we prototype applications in tandem with developing reusable componentry. We also contribute to company-wide efforts in strategy and in common architecture, e.g., for inter-agent knowledge-level communication and inter-operability. For more information about company-wide efforts, see the main IBM intelligent agents page, as well as our white papers and publications." 1/7/97

Affective computing

Laugh and Your Computer Will Laugh With You, Someday, DANIEL GOLEMAN, NYT CyberNews, January 7, 1996. "The phrase "user friendly" is about to take on a more literal meaning: Computer scientists are creating machines that can recognize their users' most intimate moods and respond like an empathetic friend. ... Bits and pieces of this emotionally attuned cyber-future already exist. Computer scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta have developed a computer system that can recognize simple facial expressions of emotions like surprise and sadness. At Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, engineers have designed programs that converse with people and respond appropriately to their emotions. And at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, where much of the work in what is being called "affective computing" is under way, a computer worn around the waist monitors its wearer's every shift of mood. No one claims that these more sensitive machines will come close to replicating full human emotion. And some skeptics question whether the work to mimic emotion in machines is worth the effort. ..." 1/7/97

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