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Agents, KQML and Knowledge Sharing

May 98

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.

USPS "mobile agents"

The U.S. Postal Service is conducting national tests of a a different kind of mobile agent -- a scheme to track regular surface mail by using tiny radio transmitters placed inside ordinary-size letters. The devices, developed by I.D. Systems, Inc. (New York, N.Y.) are currently being tested in Houston, San Francisco and the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. The USPS will expand the tests to 250 sites this fall. After the radios are mailed, sensors in local and regional post offices track them. The radios periodically turn themselves on and listen for a signal from a sensor; if they hear a sensor they tell it information about their origin, current location, and ultimate destination. Data from the sensors can be read by local postal managers by officials at the Washington headquarters abd will be used to identify problem areas where mail is held up. Details at the USPS Delivering the future, issue 15. 5/30/98


AgentSpace is a Java-based framework for mobile agent system developed on top of the ObjectSpace Voyager system. AgentSpace novelties include: (1) flexible and dynamic association between agents, places, securities policies and users; (2) transparency of agent location and security policy through the use of views; (3) easy and clean way to create agents through the use of abstract classes and methods factories; and (4) a suitable and simple integration with the Web technology (namely through AgentSpace-enabled applets). 5/30/98

How big is the Web?

Steve Lawrence and C. Lee Giles (NEC Research), Searching The World Wide Web , SCIENCE, vol. 280, p. 98, April 3, 1998. The coverage and recency of the major World Wide Web search engines was analyzed, yielding some surprising results. The coverage of any one engine is significantly limited: No single engine indexes more than about one-third of the "indexable Web"; the coverage of the six engines investigated varies by an order of magnitude; and combining the results of the six engines yields about 3.5 times as many documents on average as compared with the results from only one engine. Analysis of the overlap between pairs of engines gives an estimated lower bound on the size of the indexable Web of 320 million pages. 5/28/98


COORDINATION '99, Third International Conference on Coordination Models and Languages will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 26-28 April 1999. Building on the success of COORDINATION '96 and '97, whose proceedings were published as Springer Verlag LNCS 1061 and LNCS 1282, this conference provides a forum for the growing community of researchers interested in models, languages, and implementation techniques for coordination. Full papers must be received vy Nov 25 1998 and an abstract via email by Nov 18 1998. 5/28/98

Conferences and Workshops

The European Workshop on Learning Robots 1998 (EWLR-7) 1998. will take place at the Department of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, on the 20th of July 1998, immediately before the International Symposium on Intelligent Robotic Systems (SIRS-98).

SAB'98 Workshop On Grounding Emotions In Adaptive Systems to be held during the 5th International Conference of the Society for Adaptive Behavior (SAB'98), University of Zurich, Switzerland, August 21, 1998

Socially Situated Intelligence a workshop at SAB'98: the Fifth International Conference of the Society for Adaptive Behavior University of Z=FCrich, 17 - 21 August 1998, Switzerland. Submissions by: 14th June 1998.

The First Workshop on Embodied Conversational Characters, Granlibakken Resort & Conference Center at Lake Tahoe, California, USA, October 12-15, 1998.

IATA'98 at the Agents' World Event, 4 - 7 July 1998, Cite de Sciences - La Vilette, Paris (France)

I'MEDIAT'98, First International Workshop on Practical Information Mediation and Brokering, and the Commerce of Information on the Internet. Tokyo, Japan, September 14 1998. In Conjunction with The Eleventh International Conference on Applications of Prolog (INAP'98)

Second Iberoamerican Workshop On Distributed Artificial Intelligence And Multiagent Systems, Toledo, Spain October 1-2, 1998.

International Workshop on Intelligent Agents in Information and Process Management, KI-98, Bremen, Germany, September 15-17, 1998.

AGENTS' WORLD, 3 July (Fri) - 7 July (Tue), 1998 , Cite des Sciences, La Villette, Paris, France.


Do-I-Care Agent?

The Do-I-Care Agent (DICA) developed at UC Irvine addresses the resource re-discovery problem on the Web. Once you've found an interesting site, how do you know when new and interesting material has been added? For example, you may want to know about a new and interesting paper by a colleague. Or you may want to know about any airplane ticket sales to Australia. You don't want to know about minor changes - you want to know when cheap fares to Australia are available. DICA solves this problem by periodically visiting the site and only informing you when something interesting has occurred. You provide DICA with feedback on its interestingness judgments and thus train it to recognize the changes of interest to you. Two papers are: 5/27/98


Intelligent Reasoning Systems (IRS) is a small R&D and consulting company based in southern California which specializes in Intelligent Software Agents and Distributed Artificial Intelligence. IRS offers two systems for downloading -- Jam! and UMPRS. Jam! is a Java-based intelligent agent architecture that grew out of academic research and extended during the last five years of use,development, and application. Jam combines the best aspects of several leading-edge intelligent agent frameworks, including the Procedural Reasoning System (PRS) and SRI's ACT plan interlingua. UMPRS is a C++ implementation of a PRS-like planning engine developed at the University of Michigan. 5/27/98


ReferralWeb automatically creates social networks representing relationships between friends, colleagues, and co-workers from public information available on the Web. Two people are linked if the system has gathered evidence that the two people are somehow related. The network can then be used to guide search for information, experts, and introductions. For example, you might use the system to find experts on cryptography who are within 3 steps of yourself. The system will both find the experts and show how you are related, allowing you find trusted information from trusted experts, who are likely to help because they are friends of your friends. You can try a Java demo of ReferralWeb which includes information on about 10K computer scientists working in AI, NLP, ML and theory and read about it in The Hidden Web, by Henry Kautz, Bart Selman, and Mehul Shah. The AI Magazine, vol. 18, no. 2, Summer 1997, pages 27 - 36.


Orbital Technologies is a privately held company founded in 1995 and headquartered in Edinburgh which has developed a product called Organik that "addresses the people-related issues associated with locating, collecting and managing corporate knowledge." Using Organik, a user can ask a question and receive a set of answers consistent with their defined interest profile, refine their request using relevance feedback and, if necessary, ask Organik to recommend a contact person who could supply additional information. Orbital's Java-based Organik server application is configured to:
  • Link knowledge seekers with knowledge holders
  • Develop a comprehensive and dynamic record of users' competencies
  • Support the process of knowledge discovery over an extended period
  • Integrate information from disparate sources such as corporate intranet sites, GroupWare applications, newsgroups and relational databases

Agents & Ethics

FIPA is sponsoring a workshop on The Impact of Agents on Communications and Ethics: What do and don't we know? in Dublin on July 15 1998. Speakers will include Tom Cooper, Kaarle Nordenstreng, John Pavlic, Adam Clayton Powell, III, Hing Ai Yun. Attendance to the workshop will be free and open to the public.

The Reality Club

Edge is a web site run by the Edge Foundation, a private, non-profit organization whose mission is "to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society." It is an outgrowth of The Reality Club, an informal group founded by John Brockman, that is "committed to creating and maintaining a forum that offers an intelligent, thoughtful and engaging exchange of ideas." Recent Edge features include interviews with Pattie Maes (Intelligence Augmentation), Marvin Minsky (Consciousness is a Big Suitcase), Rod Brooks (The Deep Question), and a debate between Steve Pinker and Steve Rose (The Two Steves) 5/20/98

Norns go to war

Agents from Albia , is an article by Clive Davidson in the May 9 issue of New Scientist which describes how Cyberlife, the company which created the popular creatures alife product, is working with the British government's Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) to create agents to act as adversaries for pilots flying missions in flight simulators.
    "In their virtual world, norns live as cute, clever pets that reason and learn. In the real world, the military has enlisted the technology behind norns to create top fighter pilots. ... After running populations of 40 pilots through up to 400 generations of evolution, CyberLife has software agents that don't crash their planes and can keep targets in their sights for a long time. On paper, these synthetic pilots look as good as human aces, but DERA has not yet put humans through exactly the same test on a simulator. That would be one of the next steps for DERA and CyberLife to take."
In March CyberLife Technology signed an agreement with the UK's Ministry of Defense research organization to build a simulated military aircraft controlled by a software agent. CyberLife will be using real flight model data from the MOD to simulate an aircraft akin to the Eurofighter. "This intelligent plane, however, requires no human intervention and will be capable of sustaining flight, pursuing enemy vehicles, evading attack and making reasoned decisions in order to complete its mission requirements."


COBALT is an agent communication toolkit based on KQML and CORBA. which is coded in both Java (using JavaBeans) and C++ and uses HP ORBPlus/JORBPlus ORBs. COBALT is described in several papers: and there is a mailing list for users. 5/17/98

AgentSoft Demos

AgentSoft has demos of its LiveAgent Pro agent building technology. The include
  • A book shopping agent that shops for you at 3 on-line stores
  • A business trip information agent that integrates valuable information for business travelers from several different Web sites
  • A news agent that searches for news from several sources
  • An investment agent that gets information for a given stock symbol
The Java-based agents integrate information from a variety of sources and present the user with a report. Some of the agents run as applets, and some run on an agent server. 5/17/98

OKBC: Open Knowledge Base Connectivity

Open Knowledge Base Connectivity (OKBC) is an API for accessing knowledge bases stored in knowledge representation systems. OKBC is being developed under the sponsorship of DARPA's High Performance Knowledge Base program , where it is being used as an initial protocol for the integration of various technology components. OKBC provides a uniform model of knowledge representation systems based on a common conceptualization of classes, individuals, slots, facets, and inheritance. OKBC is defined in a programming language independent fashion, and has existing implementations in Common Lisp, Java, and C. The protocol transparently supports networked as well as direct access to KRSs and knowledge bases. OKBC consists of a set of operations that provide a generic interface to underlying systems. This interface isolates an application from many of the idiosyncrasies of a specific KRS and enables the development of tools (e.g., graphical browsers, frame editors, analysis tools, inference tools) that operate on many KR systems. It has been successfully used in several ongoing projects at SRI and Stanford University. 5/16/98


The intimal version of the FIPA 98 specification ( FIPA 98 v.0.1 ) is available. Comments are sought from interested parties. Those making substantive comments will be invited to attend the 10th FIPA meeting in Dublin (13-17 July 97). Parts 1 and 2 of FIPA 97 specification, covering the agent communication language and agent management, have been updated on the basis of comments received. Additional comments on FIPA 97 can be submitted to 5/16/98

Shop Bots

Shopbots seem to be gaining ground as a successful application of internet agent techniques. Excite recently purchased Jango and Yahoo is using technology developed by Junglee to provide shopbots for a variety of product categories. Other companies are offering services for single markets, such as books. Muenchhoff & Janz GmbH's Acses links into the databases of all its book sites, searching for your title. It returns the top selections, ranked by price, along with shipping and handling information, while linking to the respective Web sites. A recent Wired article discusses how shopbots may effect the book selling business. 5/16/98

Metadata for Educational Resources

Educom has devised a set of digital labels or metatags that can be embedded in educational documents, making it easier for search engines to find them on the Web. The metatag specifications are posted on the Instructional Management Systems Web site , and documents containing metatags will provide information about the page's contents, its title and publisher, and when it became available online, among other things. The tags could also include information such as whether a license is required to use a particular software program. IMS Meta-data will typically be represented in documents in XML/RDF format and meta-data object interface descriptions for RMI, Corba, and DCOM are being specified. Educom hopes that the introduction of metatags will enable computer companies to build educational software around a common labeling standard. 5/15/98

Java Ontology Editor

The Center for Information Technology of University of South Carolina has developed JOE (Java Ontology Editor) as a a graphical tool to assist users in designing information systems by means of ER (Entity-Relation) diagrams. 5/15/98

Practical Information Mediation and Brokering

The First International Workshop on Practical Information Mediation and Brokering, and the Commerce of Information on the Internet will be held in Tokyo, Japan, September 14 1998 in conjunction with the Eleventh International Conference on Applications of Prolog (INAP'98). The submission deadline is June 19th 1998 5/15/98

Six Degrees of Separation

6DOS is a company founded in 1996 by CMU's Merrick Furst with the intention of "transforming the way people create, use, value, and share knowledge in networked communities". 6DOS is developing software tools which allow a networked community to pose questions to one another, manage resulting conversations, and keep track of who provides useful answers to support incentives and rewards. 6DOS products automatically track, archive, and value all knowledge sharing activity. Corporate knowledge managers can better understand the dynamics of the communication and collaboration process within their organizations. 6dos uses rewards to offset resistance to asking, answering, and forwarding questions. The approach is based on the theory of interpersonal linkages known as the "Six Degrees of Separation " principle. 5/15/98

Mining Company's Agents site

Denis Susac supports a Software Agents Web site for The Mining Company. Feature articles and resource links are updated every week. Previous features include: Java Aglets, programming mobile agents, interactive characters, ALife and Neural Network technology for Software Agents. 5/15/98

Streaming Agents

7th Level is a Dallas TX company which is developing technology for "producing and streaming real-time, media-rich, interactive, intelligent animated characters to increase the effectiveness of online advertising, promotion and corporate communication.". Plugins for Netscape and IE for windows NT/95 are available for downloading. 5/15/98

Evaluation of Intelligent Systems

Evaluation of Intelligent Systems (EIS) is an online resource that provides "one-stop shopping" for researchers, managers, system-builders, and users who wish to study the empirical behavior of intelligent systems. EIS covers exploratory data analysis; hypothesis testing; modeling and statistical terminology. EIS was developed by The Experimental Knowledge Systems Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Computer Science Department and the Colorado State University Computer Science Department. The project was managed by Sterling Software and funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Knowledge Engineering Branch. Substantial portions of EIS are adapted from Paul Cohen's 1995 textbook "Empirical Methods for Artificial Intelligence," courtesy of MIT Press. 5/15/98


ANTS'98 - From Ant Colonies to Artificial Ants: First International Workshop on Ant Colony Optimization will be held in Brussels, Belgium, October 15-16, 1998. The behavior of ant colonies and how they coordinate complex activities like foraging and nest building has since long time fascinated researchers in ethology and animal behavior, who have proposed many models to explain these capabilities. Recently, algorithms taking inspiration from the behavior of real ant colonies have been applied to solve many types of optimization problems. This new approach to distributed optimization is known as "Ant Colony Optimization". Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) has been applied successfully to a large number of difficult combinatorial problems like the quadratic assignment and the traveling salesman problems, to routing in telecommunications networks, to clustering and sorting problems, etc. ANTS'98 is the first event entirely devoted to Ant Colony Optimization and more in general to algorithms inspired by the observation of ant colonies behavior. 5/15/98

Intelligent Agents in Information and Process Management

International Workshop on Intelligent Agents in Information and Process Management (KI-98) will be held in Bremen, Germany, September 15-17, 1998. KI-98 will address the use of intelligent agents, i.e., autonomous, cooperating software systems, for planning, controlling, and optimizing production and business processes. The workshop is intended to foster an interdisciplinary perspective. The investigation of common ground and differences between the planning and control of material flow processes (e.g., production planning and control) on the one hand and processes dominated by flow of information (e.g., workflow systems) on the other hand is of particular interest for the workshop. 5/15/98

Knowledge and Information Systems Journal

Knowledge and Information Systems (KAIS) is a new quarterly peer-reviewed journal published by Springer-Verlag which aims to provide an international forum for researchers and professionals to share their knowledge and report new advances on all topics related to knowledge systems and advanced information systems. The journal focuses on knowledge systems and advanced information systems, including their theoretical foundations, infrastructure and enabling technologies. In addition to archival papers, the journal also publishes significant on-going research in the form of Short Papers (limited to 3000 words), and very short papers on "visions and directions" (no more than 1000 words, excluding bibliography). The KAIS executive editor is Xindong Wu (Monash University) and Honorary Editor-in-Chief is Benjamin Wah (University of Illinois, Urbana). 5/15/98


As part of its ESPRIT program of research and development in strategically important areas of information technology, the European Commission has funded AgentLink , an open Network of Excellence in the area of agent-based computer systems. AgentLink is intended as an *open* network and all eligible institutions are invited to apply for (free) membership. Members will be able to take advantage of AgentLink's resources for establishing new collaborations, join AgentLink's funded special interest groups, and take advantage of a professionally maintained communication infrastructure for finding out about agents. General enquiries about AgentLink should be sent to the network coordinator, Mike Wooldridge (University of London), as . 5/15/98


IBM has developed JKQML as a framework and API for constructing Java-based, KQML-speaking software agents that communicate over the Internet. JKQML allows the exchange of information and services between software systems, creating loosely coupled distributed systems. Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language (KQML) is an agent communication language that is used in systems ranging from research experimental systems to real business production systems. Common attributes of agents include reactivity, autonomy, collaborative behavior, communication ability, mobility, and so on. Software agents must communicate with other agents in order to work flexibly and autonomously. JKQML provides flexibility for the extension of the framework, and it supports the following three protocols:
  • KTP (KQML transfer protocol): a socket-based transport protocol for a KQML message represented in ASCII.
  • ATP (agent transfer protocol): a protocol for KQML messages transferred by a mobile agent that is implemented by Aglets.
  • OTP (object transfer protocol): a transfer protocol for Java objects that are contained in a KQML message.
JKQML is based on the KQML97 specification. 5/15/98

Reticular's AgentBuilder

Reticular Systems's AgentBuilder is an integrated tool suite for constructing intelligent software agents consisting of two major components - the Toolkit and the Run-Time System. The AgentBuilder Toolkit includes tools for managing the agent-based software development process, analyzing the domain of agent operations, designing and developing networks of communicating agents, defining behaviors of individual agents, and debugging and testing agent software. The Run-Time System includes an agent engine that provides an environment for execution of agent software. Agents constructed using AgentBuilder communicate using KQML. 5/15/98

Autonomous, Model-based Diagnosis Agents

Michael Schroeder.'s Autonomous, Model-based Diagnosis Agents defines and describes the implementation of an architecture for autonomous, model-based diagnosis agents by developing a logic programming approach for model-based diagnosis and introducing strategies to deal with more complex diagnosis problems, and then embedding the diagnosis framework into the agent architecture of vivid agents. Details: Kluwer Academic Publisher Hardbound, ISBN 0-7923-8142-4, April 1998, 168 pp. NLG 225.00 / USD 97.50 / GBP 66.30 Order at 5/15/98 is a new mailing list for discussion of the fields of mobile agents, remote programming, active packets, mobile code, and related ideas. The charter of this mailing list is to be a professional community for people researching mobile agents, remote programming, active packets, and mobile objects. The unifying theme is mobile code: programs that are capable of moving from machine to machine during their execution. Within the topic of distributed systems built using mobile code, there is much room for discussions of ideas, techniques, implications, and purposes. Several specific forums already exist for particular mobile agent technologies; the purpose of this list is to transcend specific implementation details, to discuss the core design ideas behind mobile agents research. To subscribe, mail with "subscribe mobility" in the message body. New members will also need to submit a two or three sentence biography about their interest in mobile agents to . 5/15/98

Jumping Beans Meet CORBA

Ad Astra's Jumping Beans mobility framework (beta) now supports mobile CORBA, providing communication over OMG's industry-standard CORBA, and eliminates the need for proprietary ORBs. Jumping Beans mobile applications are now CORBA server-side objects. Any client-side objects bound to a Jumping Beans mobile application will remain bound to the mobile application before, during, and after a dispatch of the mobile application. This is completely transparent to the developer because it is built on standard CORBA and IIOP. Prior to this technology, all CORBA objects were static and immoble, and the developer was forced to work within this limitation, or use proprietary ORBs. 5/15/98

Embodied Conversational Characters

The First Workshop on Embodied Conversational Characters will be held at Granlibakken Resort & Conference Center at Lake Tahoe, California, on October 12-15, 1998. The two and a half-day workshop will include several paper sessions, organized around emerging themes, with follow-up panel discussions focused on the goal of advancing the state of conversational character research and development by identifying novel approaches to a number of topics and issues, and integrating them into a framework for embodied, conversational human-computer interaction. Selected contributors will be invited to expand and refine their papers for inclusion in a book to be published by Addison-Wesley. The aims of this book will be to introduce, define, and advance the field; to give a snapshot of current work in it; and to suggest future challenges and opportunities. Paper submissions are due on June 15, 1998. 5/15/98

Millemiglia in Automatico

From June 1st to June 6th, 1998 the autonomous vehicle ARGO will drive through Italy automatically and during the tour it will broadcast a live video stream to the Internet. You will be able to take a look at ARGO's driving cabin, at the results of the processing, and... at the outside landscapes, LIVE. The official presentation of the tour will take place on Wednesday, May 27th, 1998, at the University of Parma. 5/15/98

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