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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

June 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.

Revised FIPA documents

FIPA held a meeting at Cheju Island, Korea attended by 57 people. As a result of this meeting, the seven FIPA technical committees have released revised versions of the FIPA specification documents. Comments are invited and should be sent (word or html format) to and will be posted on the FIPA home page for access by members only. Non members making substantial comments to the documents will be invited to attend the next meeting to be held in Munich, DE on 06-10 October 1997. 6/30/97

Applied Ontology Conference

SUNY Bufffal is sponsoring a conference Applied Ontology: A Marvin Farber Conference on Law and Institutions in Society in Buffalo on April 24th and 25th, 1998 on the topic of applied ontology. A special symposium will be organized as part of the conference on John Searle's book "The Construction of Social Reality", with responses by the author. Examples of other problem areas which may be addressed include: the ontology of laws, norms and rules; the ontology of speech acts; the ontology of international law (secession, immigration, citizenship; cross-cultural and comparative legal ontology); the ontology of land and real estate (law and naive geography); the ontology of crime and punishment; the ontology of environmental law; the ontology of cyberspace and of intellectual property; the ontology of the human genome project (genetic patents, genes as expressions). The deadline for submissions is January 1, 1998. Details of submission procedures can be obtained from, or by e-mail from, or from: Farber Conference, Department of Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo, NY 14260-1010.

John R. Searle , The Construction of Social Reality, The Free Press, New York, 1995, xiii + 241 Hardcover: $25.00. A book review by Reviewed by Klaus Krippendorff of University of Pennsylvania apeard in volume 7 of Communication Theory -- A Journal of the International Communication Association. 6/30/97


Onn Shehory ( is maintaining a web archive of hypertext version of past issues of the DAI-List mailing list. His archive goes back to DAIList #284 (October, 96). DAI-List is a mailing list for Distributed AI run by Michael Huhns of the University of South Carolina. Send submissions to and administrative requests to A complete archive of past issues starting with #1 in November 1989 is available at 6/30/97

Real-Time Search for Learning Autonomous Agents

Toru Ishida (Kyoto University), Real-Time Search for Learning Autonomous Agents, Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN 0-7923-9944-7. "Autonomous agents or multiagent systems are computational systems in which several computational agents interact or work together to perform some set of tasks. These systems may involve computational agents having common goals or distinct goals.

Real-Time Search for Learning Autonomous Agents focuses on extending real-time search algorithms for autonomous agents and for a multiagent world. Though real-time search provides an attractive framework for resource-bounded problem solving, the behavior of the problem solver is not rational enough for autonomous agents: the problem solver always keeps the record of its moves; and the problem solver cannot utilize and improve previous experiments. Other problems are that though the algorithms interleave planning and execution, they cannot be directly applied to a multiagent world; the problem solver cannot adapt to the dynamically changing goals; and the problem solver cannot cooperatively solve problems with other problem solvers. This book deals with these issues." 6/30/97

Netscape to use MCF

An article in InfoWorld Electric Netscape readies framework for Web-site display (Lynda Radosevich, June 28) discusses Netscape's plans to use Meta Content Formalism (MCF) to help organize the web.
    "Netscape also plans to offer on its Web site a "visualization component gallery" from which users and developers can pluck display controls that tap into the framework. ... "The overall goal is to give people much more useful ways of managing their information space and sharing it with collaborators," said Martin Haeberli, Netscape's director of technology. ... The framework is based on Netscape's implementation of the Meta Content Format (MCF) using the Extensible Markup Language (XML), which Netscape proposed as a standard to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in early June. MCF provides a means for describing information about Web content and extracting the content. It is derived from Apple's Hotsauce MCF, the brainchild of former Apple engineer R.V. Guha, whom Netscape hired away this spring, Haeberli said. Netscape's MCF overlaps in some areas with Microsoft's Channel Definition Format, a proposed standard for describing pushed content. But MCF is a broader specification, Hickman said. "Instead of coming out with separate formats for site visualization, control, and pushed content, it provides a basic framework for all of these areas," Hickman said."
The article asserts that Apple, Yahoo, and NetObjects have incorporated MCF into products and services and that Microsoft is reviewing it as well. Note: Guha is well known in AI circles for his work at MCC where he was a major contibutor to CYC. 6/30/97

NY Times discusses Firefly

The New York Times featured Firefly in a recent article The Buzz About Firefly times. A sidebar article How an Agent Works for You describes how personal recommendation agents like firefly's work today and how they might be extended to work in the future. 6/30/97

UMUAI special issue on User Modeling and Machine Learning

User Modeling and User-adapted Interaction will soliciting submissions for a special issue on Machine Learning for User Modelling. The deadline is 30 September 1997. Contributions are particularly welcome in, but not limited to, the following areas: induction of individual user models; induction of stereotypical and community models; knowledge representation and reasoning for induction of user models; combining and managing multiple information sources; modelling user preferences that reflect various classes of change: significant long term shifts in the user's knowledge, capabilities, or interests; catering to differing moods and cyclical changes in user needs; assessment of probability that a user belongs to a stereotype class; empirical studies of construction and use of ruser models; theoretical studies of representations of user models; comprehensive state-of-the-art analysis and evaluation of the application of user models. 6/26/97

General Magic's Serengeti

An article in the San Francisco Chronical by Jonathan Marshall, Calling Your Computer General Magic hopes new product does the trick, describes General Magic's new product, Serengeti... "Markman is betting the company's last $50 million on a service code-named Serengeti, which it hopes to begin selling this fall. General Magic plans to sell the service to companies that want to let their mobile workers retrieve voice mail, e- mail and information off their computers by phone. It does nearly all the work of an executive assistant. ... The system relies on two key advances by General Magic researchers. One is in an extremely sophisticated speech recognition system, which understands complex sentences, not just words. The other is a system of ``intelligent agents'' that let Serengeti link up with your computer to access scheduling and contact databases, as well as public information sources for news, stock quotes, weather and other items." 6/26/97

Virtual Humans

The New York Times has an article on Giving Expression to Communication With the Help of Virtual Humans. The article described the recent Virtual Humans 2 conference held in Los Angeles which focused on the "technology of ergonomic humanoids, virtual actors and avatars". The article also featured the British Telecom Talking Head teleconferencing system which is able to provide near real-time rendering of facial expressions, hand movements and lip-synched audio. 6/25/97

Bits & Pixels' Agent generator tool

Tomas John of Bits & Pixels in Austin, Texas reports that they have a agent generator tool that creates networked Java agents from state tables. Intelligence can be added using intelligent processing modules in the Bits & Pixels Intelligent Agent Library. Downloadable example is in the download area. 6/25/97

Should virtual pets die?

Andrew Stern of PF.Magic reports that they have been soliciting opinions on the question "Should Virtual Pets Die?" They've gotten over 3000 responses with approximately 55% agains and 10% for and 35% saying it should be an option. 6/25/97

Agent Sourcebook

Colin G. Harrison and Alper Caglayan, Agent Sourcebook, John Wiley & Sons, Paperback, 352 pages, June 1, 1997, ISBN: 0471153273. This book is intended as "A practical guide to introducing agent technology into your business applications." Caglayan is the president and co-founder of Open Sesame and Harrison is program director for Global Services Research at IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center. The table of contents is:
  • Part I - Intelligent Agents in Business: 1 Intelligent Agents; 2 Desktop Agents; 3 Internet Agents - Complete chapter excerpt; 4 Intranet Agents.
  • Part II - How Intelligent Agents Work: 5 Intelligent Agent Technology; 6 Agent Machinery; 7 Agent Content; 8 Agent Access; 9 Agent Security.
  • Part III - Developing and Deploying Intelligent Agents: 10 Agent Based Application Development; 11 Developing an Intelligent Agent; 12 Summing Up.
  • Appendix - Commercial Agent Software
Some of the materila in the book is available as a companion web site 6/25/97

User Interfaces for All

The 3rd ERCIM Workshop on User Interfaces for All will be held 3-4 November 1997 in Alsace France. This yearly European workshop aims to stimulate further discussion on the state of the art in the field of Human-Computer Interaction, and to consolidate recent work in the areas of adaptation (adaptability and adaptivity), platform independence and interoperability, multimodality, interaction metaphors, user empowerment, ergonomic and human factors guidelines, multi-linguality, internationalisation and localisation of interactive applications, etc. 6/23/97

Intelligent User Interfaces

The 1998 International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces will be held January 6-9, 1997 in San Francisco, California, USA. The deadline for submitted papers is July 1, 1997. 6/23/97

Actors and Agents

Original papers are sought for a special series in IEEE Concurrency on Actors and Agents being edited by Dennis Kafura ( and Jean-Pierre Briot ( Submitted papers may be research or survey articles, essays, or project descriptions. They may primarily address actors or agents. Accepted papers will appear in consecutive issues of IEEE Concurrency beginning with Fall 1997 and continuing through 1998. It is intended that the collection of accepted papers will represent a cross section of current work involving actors and agents. Submissions to the actors/agents series will be accepted beginning with this announcement and until April 1998. Early submission is encouraged to ensure maximal consideration. IEEE Concurrency strives to get the first set of referee reports and make initial decisions in eight to ten weeks of submission. 6/23/97

Agents Meet Databases: Cooperative Information Systems

Munindar P. Singh is offering a short course Agents Meet Databases: Cooperative Information Systems at North Carolina State University July 7-11, 1997. The course will cover the synthesis of artificial intelligence and database techniques to develop systems of cooperating agents that operate in databases and other information-rich environments. Applications include telecommunications, virtual enterprises, logistics, healthcare, and manufacturing automation, to name but a few. Cooperative Information Systems (CIS) is distinguished from other work in agents by involving robust database techniques for capturing and using semantics through abstractions such as data models, ontologies, transactions, relaxed transactions, and workflows. The course will guide practitioners by describing implemented, tested agent-based approaches to managing large amounts of information in the abovementioned applications. It will introduce graduate students and advanced developers to a new area with lots of important challenges and exciting approaches. No special background is assumed beyond a basic education or experience in computing. 6/23/97

Design of Intelligent Multi-Agent Systems

A five-day post-graduate course entitled Design of Intelligent Multi-Agent Systems will be held at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from November 5 to November 11, 1997. Course material and instructions are in English. In this course, participants learn to construct transparent, structured conceptual designs of multi-agent systems, to specify conceptual designs in DESIRE, and to transform specifications into implementations. In addition, participants learn to use tools designed to support modeling and specification of multi-agent systems. Participants are expected to be interested in the design and development of multi-agent systems, and to have had some experience in the development of information systems and/or knowledge-based systems. DESIRE is the result of nine years of research by the Artificial Intelligence Group at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in interaction with industry. 6/23/97


CIA-98 , the Second International Workshop COOPERATIVE INFORMATION AGENTS - Learning, Mobility, and Electronic Commerce for Information Discovery in the Internet will be held July 3 - 8, 1998 at Cite de Sciences - La Vilette, Paris (France) in conjunction with the 3rd International Conference on Multiagent Systems ICMAS-98. Papers must be submitted by February 6, 1998. The workshop proceedings will be published by Springer Verlag as a volume in the series Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence (LNCS subseries). 6/23/97

Software Agents: A review

Leon Hurst ( of Trinity College Dublin reports the availability of Software Agents: A review (gzip'd postscript) -- a 50 page review on software agents focusing on interface agents, multi-agent systems (DAI) and mobile agents. (also available in zip format). 6/23/97

Intelligent Agent Technology for the Digital Workplace

James A. Hendler( and VS Subrahmanian ( are offering a course Intelligent Agent Technology for the Digital Workplace June 13, 1997 - $179 for the day (or remotely viewable via NTU) to be held at the University of Maryland, College Park. This course is intended for business and technical managers, as well as software engineers and programmers who with to obtain more knowledge about intelligent agent technology. Lectures include: Agents: What are they and how can they help you; Supporting technology; Making Agents work; Agent Architectures; and Languages for building multi-agent systems. For more information call 301-405-4905, or email 6/23/97

IEEE Internet Computing: Agents on the Web

IEEE Internet Computing has a monthly column "Agents on the Web" written by Michael Huhns and Munindar Singh. The first three articles are available as: 6/23/97


Agents'98, the second international conference on Autonomous Agents, will be held in Minneapolis/St. Paul on May 10-13, 1998. A series of workshops will precede the conference. Important deadlines: 10/1/97 for submitting papers 9/15/97 for submitting workshop proposals and 10/1/97 for submitting tutorial proposals. Send mail to to be automatically added to a mailing list for news about the conference. 6/23/97


The Agents'97 proceedings has been reprinted and is now available. This includes conference packet (print proceedings, video proceedings, and conference companion), the conference proceedings only, and/or tutorial working notes. Print proceedings only may be accessed on-line from the SIGART Electronic Information Service server at 6/23/97

Agent technology handbook

Agent Technology Handbook, Dimitris N. Chorafas, McGraw-Hill Series on Computer Communications, McGraw Hill Text, (Paperback), June 1997, ISBN: 0070119236.

Jess 3.0 beta released

A beta version of Jess 3.0 has been released by Ernest Friedman-Hill ( of Sandia. Jess is a clone of the popular CLIPS expert system shell written entirely in Java. Jess 3.0 adds significant new features (e.g., multifields, multislots, and incremental reset) and includes a number of bug fixes, a more flexible user function interface, lots of new built-in functions, and a general code cleanup and reorganization (a 'jess' package.)

Intelligent Java Applications

Intelligent Java Applications for the Internet and Intranets , Mark Watson, Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 1997, 400 pages, paperback book + CD, $44.95, ISBN 1-55860-420-0. "Internet tools and applications frequently use artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to enable special features and reduce development time. This book allows you to apply these powerful AI design techniques to your Java programming. Focusing on intelligent systems, it provides the introductory AI material that Java programmers need to create Internet and Intranet applications including on-line games, search tools, and data collection tools. A variety of detailed examples are provided to illustrate how these applications are used in real-world software projects, and to guide you in developing applications of your own.

AI concepts are explained in detail making the book accessible to any Java programmer. An accompanying CD-ROM lets readers experiment with source code for the Java classes developed in the book. The CD-ROM includes many immediately useful Java class libraries and four complete applications that use the Java class libraries. Complete example programs cover a range of applications including an arcade style game, a handwriting recognition system, a system that answers questions about ancient history, and an information retrieval application."


The Fourth International Workshop on Agent Theories, Architectures, and Languages (ATAL) will be held just before AAAI-97 at Providence, Rhode Island, on July 24-26, 1997. From 75 submissions, 20 papers were accepted for long presentation at ATAL, and a further 5 were accepted as speculative papers, with a shorter presentation slot. To participate, see the web page or request an invitation from the general chair, Munindar Singh, The deadline for early registration is June 17 and hotel rooms willbe held till June 23.

GM's Odyssey beta 2

General Magic has released a new version (beta 2) of the Odyssey Mobile Agent software. Some new features include:
  • Agent meeting to facilitate communication between agents that are in the same place.
  • a Finder mechanism, to support alternative transport mechanisms (e.g., RMI, DCOM, IIOP) to move agents between Odyssey agent systems. The Finder determines how to reach a destination place, either on the same or on a different Odyssey agent system.
  • an AuditTrail class, to provide a greater range of logging facilities.
There is also an Introduction to the Odyssey API document.

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