Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Software agents: an overview

  • Hyacinth S. Nwana (a1)
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. Next, it places agents 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 our 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.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Agre, PE, 1988. The dynamic structure of everyday life, PhD Thesis, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT.
Agre, PE and Chapman, D, 1987. “Pengi: An implementation of a theory of activity” In: Proceedings of the 6th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Morgan Kaufmann, 268272.
Ambros-Ingerson, J and Steel, S, 1988. “Integrating planning, execution and monitoring” In: Proceedings of the 7th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-88) St Paul, MN, 8388.
Amstrong, R, Freitag, D, Jopachims, T, and Mitchell, T, 1995. “Webwatcher: a learning apprentice for the World Wide Web” In: Proceedings of the Symposium on Information Gathering from Heterogeneous, Distributed Environments, AAAI Press.
Appleby, S and Steward, S, 1994. “Mobile software agents for control in telecommunications networksBT Technological Journal 12 (2) 104113, 04.
Bates, J, 1994. “The role of emotion in believable charactersCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 122125.
Bond, AH and Gasser, L, 1988. Readings in Distributed Artificial Intelligence, Morgan Kaufmann.
Bratman, ME, Israel, DJ and Pollack, ME, 1988. “Plans and resource-bounded practical reasoningComputational Intelligence 4 349355.
Brooks, RA, 1986. “A robust layered control system for a mobile robotIEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation 2 (1) 1423.
Brooks, RA, 1991a. “Elephants don't play chess” In: Maes, P (ed.) Designing Autonomous Agents: Theory and Practice from Biology to Engineering and Back The MIT press, 315.
Brooks, RA, 1991b. “Intelligence without representationArtificial Intelligence 47 139159.
Brooks, RA, 1991c. “Intelligence without reason” In: Proceedings of the 12th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence Morgan Kaufmann, 569595.
Caglayan, A, Snorrason, M, Jacoby, J, Mazzu, J and Jones, R, 1996. “Lessons from Open Sesame! a user interface learning agent” In: Proceedings the First International Conference on the Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-A gent Technology (PAAM '96) London, 222404 6174.
Carver, N and Lesser, V, 1995. “The DRESUN Testbed for research in FA/C distribution situation assessment: extensions to the model of external evidence” In: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS-95) San Francisco, USA, 06 3340.
Carver, N, Cvetanovic, Z and Lesser, V, 1991. “Sophisticated cooperation in distributed problem solving” In: Proceedings of the 9th National Conference on Artficial Intelligence 1, Anaheim, 191198.
Chaib-draa, BMoulin, BMandiau, R and Millot, P, 1992. “Trends in distributed artificial intelligenceArtifIcial Intelligence Review 6 3566.
Chapman, D, 1992. Vision, Instruction and Action, MIT Press.
Chavez, A and Maes, P, 1996. “Kasbah: An agent marketplace for buying and selling goods” In: Proceedings the First International Conference on the Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology (PAAM '96) London, 222404 7590.
Cohen, PR and Levesque, HJ, 1990. “Intention is choice with commitmentArtificial Intelligence 42 213261.
Connah, D, 1994. “The design of interacting agents for use in interfaces” In: Brouwer-Janse, D and Harringdon, TL (eds), Human-Machine Communication for Educational Systems Design, NATO ASI Series, Series F, Computer and Systems Sciences 129 Springer Verlag.
Cutkosky, MR, Engelmore, RS, Fikes, RE, Genesereth, MR, Gruber, TR, Tenenbaum, JM and Weber, JC, 1993. “PACT: An experiment in integrating concurrent engineering systemsIEEE Computer 1, 01 2837.
Davies, NJ and Weeks, R, 1995. “Jasper: Communicating information agents” In: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on the World Wide Web Boston, USA, 11.
Davis, R and Smith, RG, 1983. “Negotiation as a metaphor for distributed problem solvingArtificial Intelligence 20 63109.
Decker, KS, 1995. “Distributed artificial intelligence testbeds” In: O'Hare, G and Jennings, N (eds.), Foundations of Distributed Artficial Intelligence, Chap 3, Wiley.
Decker, KS and Lesser, VR, 1993 “Designing a family of coordination algorithms” In: Proceedings of the 11th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence Washington, 217224.
Dent, L, Boticario, J, McDermott, J, Mitchell, T and Zabowski, DA, 1992. “A personal learning apprentice” In: Proceedings of the 10th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence San Jose, California, AAAI Press, 96103.
Doran, J, Carvajal, H, Choo, Y and Li, Y, 1991. “The MCS Multi-agent Testbed: developments and experiments” In: Deen, S. (ed.), Cooperating Knowledge based Systems Springer-Verlag, 240251.
Durfee, EH, and Montogomery, TA, 1989. “MICE: A flexible testbed for intelligent coordination experiments” In: Proceedings of the 1989 Distributed Artificial Intelligence Workshop 2540.
Durfee, EH, Lesser, VR and Corkill, D, 1987. “Coherent cooperation among communicating problem solversIEEE Transactions on Computers C-36 (11) 12751291.
Eichmann, DT, 1994a. “The RBSE Spider–balancing effective search against web load” In: Proceedings of the First International Conference on the World Wide Web Geneva, Switzerland, 05 2527, 369378.
Eichmann, DT, 1994b. “Ethical web agents” In: Proceedings of the 2nd WWW Conference, http:// ww.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/IT94/.
Etzioni, O, 1993. “Intelligence without robots: a reply to BrooksAI Magazine 14 (4) 713.
Etzioni, O, and Weld, D, 1994. A softbot-based interface to the internetCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 7276.
Ferber, J, 1994. “Simulating with reactive agents” In: Hillebrand, E and Stender, J (eds.), Many Agent Simulation and Arficial Life lOS Press, 828.
Ferguson, IA, 1992a. “Towards an architecture for adaptive, rational, mobile agents” In: Werner, E and Demazeau, Y (eds.), Decentralized Al 3: Proceedings of the 3rd European Workshop on Modelling Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Worlds (MAAMA W-91) Elsevier, 249262.
Ferguson, IA, 1992b. TouringMachines: An architecture for dynamic, rational, mobile agents. PhD Thesis, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK.
Fikes, RE and Nilsson, NJ, 1971. “STRIPS: A new approach to the application of theorem proving to problem solvingArtificial Intelligence 2 189208.
Finin, T and Wiederhold, G, 1991. “An overview of KQML: A knowledge query and manipulation language” Department of Computer Science, Stanford University.
Fisher, K, Muller, JP and Pischel, M, 1996. “Unifying control in a layered agent architecture” Technical Report TM–94–05, German Research Center for AI-(DFKI GmbH).
Foner, L, 1993. “What's an agent, anyway? A sociological case study” Agents Memo 93–01, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA.
Foner, L, 1996. “A multi-agent referral system for MatchMaking” In: Proceedings the First International Conference on the Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology (PAAM ') London, 222404 245262.
Gasser, L, 1991. “Social conceptions of knowledge and action: DAI foundations and open systemsArtificial Intelligence 47 107138.
Gasser, L and Huhns, M, 1989. DistributedArtf1cial Intelligence 2 Morgan Kaufmann.
Gasser, L, Braganza, C and Herman, N, 1987. “MACE: A flexible testbed for distributed AI research” Huhns, M (ed.), Distributed Artficial Intelligence, Research Notes in Artificial Intelligence Pitman, 119152.
Gasser, L, Rosenschein, JS and Ephrati, E, 1995. “Introduction to multi-agent systems” Tutorial A Presented at the 1st International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems San Francisco CA,, 06.
Georgeff, M, 1996. “Agents with motivation: essential technology for real world applications” In: The First International Conference on the Practical Applications of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology London, UK, 24 04.
Georgeff, MP and Ingrand, FF, 1989. “Decision-making in an embedded reasoning system” In: Proceedings of the 11th International Joint Conference on Arficial Intelligence Detroit, MI. Morgan Kaufmann, 972978.
Genesereth, MR and Ketchpel, SP, 1994. “Software agentsCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 4853.
Graham, M and Wavish, PR, 1991. “Simulating and implementing agents and multiple agent systems” In: Proceedings of the European Simulation Multi-Conferencce Copenhagen, 06.
Greif, I, 1994. “Desktop agents in group-enabled productsCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 100105.
Gruber, T, 1991. “Ontolingua: A mechanism to support portable ontologies” KSL-91–66, Stanford University Knowledge Systems Laboratory.
Guilfoyle, C, 1995. “Vendors of agent technology” In: UNICOM Seminar on Intelligent Agents and their Business Applications, 8911 London, 135142.
Hayes-Roth, B, 11991. “An integrated architecture for intelligent agentsSIGART Bulletin 2 (4) 7981.
Hayes-Roth, B, 1995. “An architecture for adpative intelligent systemsArtificial Intelligence 72 (1–2) 329365.
Hayes-Roth, B, Brownston, L and van Gent, R, 1995. “Multiagent collaboration in directed improvisation” Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS-95) San Francisco, USA, 06, 148153.
Hermens, L and Schlimmer, J, 1993. “A machine learning apprentice for the completion of repetitive forms” In: Proceedings of the 9th IEEE Conference on Artificial Intelligence Applications IEEE Press, 164–;170.
Hewitt, C, 1977. “Viewing control structures as patterns of passing messagesArtificial Intelligence 8 (3) 323364.
Huhns, MN and Singh, MP, 1994. “Distributed artificial intelligence for information systems” CKBS-94 Tutorial, 0615, University of Keele, UK.
Indermaur, K, 1995. “Baby steps” Byte, 03, 97104.
Huhns, MN, Jacobs, N, Ksieyk, T, Shen, W-M, Singh, MP and Cannata, PE, 1993. “Integrating enterprise information models in Carnot” In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Intelligent and Cooperative Information Systems (ICI-CIS) 3242.
Jennings, NR, 1993. “Specification and implementation of a belief desire joint-intention architecture for collaborative problem solvingJournal of Intelligent and Cooperative Information Systems 2 (3) 289318.
Jennings, NR, Varga, LZ, Aarnts, RP, Fuchs, J and Skarek, P, 1993. “Transforming StandAlone expert systems into a community of cooperating agentsInternational Journal of Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence 6 (4) 317331.
Jennings, N, Corera, JM, Laresgoiti, L, Mamdani, E, Perriollat, F, Skarek, P and Varga, L, 1995. “Using ARCHON to develop real-world DAI applications for electricity transportation and particle accelerator control” IEEE Expert Special Issue on Real World Applications of DAI systems.
Kaebling, LP and Rosenschein, SJ, 1990. “Action and planning in embedded agents” In: Maes, P (ed), Designing Autonomous Agents: Theory and Practice from Biology to Engineering and Back, MIT Press, 3548.
Kay, A, 1990. “User interface: A personal view” In: Laurel, B (ed.), The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design Addison-Wesley.
King, JA, 1995. “Intelligent agents: bringing good things to life” AI Expert 02, 1719.
Kozierok, R and Maes, P, 1993. “A learning interface agent for scheduling meetings” In: Proceedings of the ACM-SIGCHI International Workshop on Intelligent User Interfaces Florida, 8193.
Lang, K, 1995. “Newsweeder: learning to filter netnews” In: Proceedings of the Machine Learning Conference.
Lashkari, Y, Metral, M and Maes, P, 1994. “Collaborative interface agents” In: Proceedings of the 12th National Conference on Artificial Intelligence 1 AAAI Press, 444449.
Lesser, V and Corkill, D, 1981. “Functionally accurate, cooperative distributed systemsIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics C-11 (1) 8196.
Levitt, R, Cohen, P, Kunz, J, Nass, C, Christiansen, T and Jin, Y, 1994. “The virtual design team: simulating how organisational structure and communication tools affect team performance” In: Carley, K and Prietula, M (eds.), Computational Organisation Theory Lawrence Erlbaum.
Lieberman, H, 1995. “Letizia: An agent that assists web browsing” In: Proceedings of IJCAI95 AAAI Press.
Maes, P (ed), 1991a. Designing Autonomous Agents: Theory and Practice from Biology to Engineering and Back MIT Press.
Maes, P, 1991b. “Situated agents can have goals” In: Maes, P (ed), Designing Autonomous Agents: Theory and Practice from Biology to Engineering and Back MIT Press, 4970.
Maes, P, 1994. “Agents that reduce work and information overloadCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 3140.
Maes, P, 1995a. “Intelligent softwareScientific American 273 (3) 09.
Maes, P, 1995b. “Artificial intelligence meets entertainment: lifelike autonomous agentsCommunications of the ACM 38 (11) 11 108114.
Minsky, M, 1985. The Society of Mind Simon and Schuster.
Mitchell, T, Caruana, R, Freitag, D, McDermott, J and Zabowski, D, 1994. “Experience with a learning personal assistantCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 8191.
Moukas, A, 1996. “Ainalthaea: Information discovery and filtering using a multiagent evolving ecosystem” In: Proceedings the First International Conference on the Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology (PAAM '96) London, 222404 421436.
Muller, JP, 1994. “A conceptual model for agent interaction” In: Deen, SM (ed.), Proceedings of the 2nd International Working Conference on Cooperative Knowledge Based Systems (CKBS–94) Keele University: Dake Centre, 213234.
Muller, JP, Pishel, M and Thiel, M, 1995. “Modelling reactive behaviour in vertically layered agent architectures” In: Wooldridge, M and Jennings, N (eds.), Intelligent Agents, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 890 Springer-Verlag, 261276.
Musliner, DH, Durfee, EH and Shin, KG, 1993. “CIRCA: A cooperative intelligent real-time control architectureIEEE Transactions on Systems, Man Cybernetics 23.
Newell, A, 1982. “The knowledge levelArtificial Intelligence 18 87127.
Norman, D, 1994. “How might people interact with agentsCommunications of the ACM 37 (7) 6876.
Nwana, HS, 1993. “Simulating a children's playground in ABLE” Working Report, Department of Computer Science, Keele University UK.
Nwana, HS, 1996. “The potential benefits of software agent technology to BT” Internal Technical Report, Project NOMADS, Intelligent Systems Research, AAandT, BT Labs, UK.
Nwana, HS, Lee, L and Jennings, NR, 1996. “Coordination in software agent systemsBritish Telecommunications Technology Journal 14 (4), 10.
Nwana, HS and Wooldridge, M, 1996, “Software Agent Technologies”, British Telecommunications Technology Journal, 14 (4), 10.
O'Brien, P and Wiegand, M, 1996. “Agents of change in Business Process ManagementBritish Telecommunications Technology Journal, 14 (4), 10.
Ovum, 1994. Ovum Report, Intelligent Agents: The New Revolution in Software.
Papazoglou, MP, Laufman, SC and Sellis, TK, 1992. “An organisational framework for cooperating intelligent information systemsIntelligent and Cooperative Information Systems 1 (1) 169202.
Plu, M, 1995. “Software agents in telecommunications network environments” UNICOM Seminar on Intelligent Agents and their Business Applications 8–9 11 London, 225243.
Pylyshyn, ZW (ed), 1987. The Robot's Dilemma: The Frame Problem in Artificial Intelligence Ablex.
Rao, AS and Georgeff, MP, 1995. “BDI agents: from theory to practice” In: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Multi-Agent Systems (ICMAS-95) San Francisco, USA, 06, 312319.
Reinhardt, A, 1994. “The network with smarts” Byte 10, 5164.
Rosenschein, JS, 1985. Rational Interaction: Cooperation Among Intelligent Agents. PhD Thesis, Stanford University.
Rosenschein, JS and Zlotkin, G, 1994. Rules of Encounter: Designing Conventions for Automated Negotiation among Computers MIT Press.
Rhodes, BJ and Starner, T, 1996. “Remembrance agent: A continuously automated information retrieval system” In: Proceedings the First International Conference on the Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology (PAAM '96) London, 222404, 487496.
Shardanand, U and Maes, P, 1995. “Social information filtering for aatomating ‘Word of Mouth’” In: Proceedings of CHI-95 Denver, CO.
Sheth, B and Maes, P, 1993. “Evolving agents for personalised information filtering” In: Proceedings of the 9th IEEE Conference on Artificial Intelligence for Applications.
Shoham, Y, 1993. “Agent-oriented programmingArtificial Intelligence 60 (1) 5192.
Smith, RG, 1980. “The contract net protocol: high-level communication and control in a distributed problem solverIEEE Transactions on Computers C29 (12).
Smith, R, 1996a. “Software agent technology” In: Proceedings of The First International Conference on the Practical Applications of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology London, UK, 557571.
Smith, R, 1996b. Personal communication.
Steels, L, 1990. “Cooperation between distributed agents through self-organisation” In: Demazeau, Y and Muller, JP (eds.), Decentralized Al—Proceedings of the 1st MAAMAW Elsevier, 175196.
Suchman, LA, 1987. Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication Cambridge University Press.
Sycara, K, 1995. “Intelligent agents and the information revolution” In: UNICOM Seminar on Intelligent Agents and their Business Applications 8–9 11 London, 143159.
Titmuss, R, Winter, CS and Crabtree, B, 1996. “Agents, mobility and multimedia information” In: Proceedings the First International Conference on the Practical Application of Intelligent Agents and Multi-Agent Technology (PAAM '96) London, 222404 693708. URL1: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.crnu.edu/project/theo-5/www/pleiades.html. URL2: http://www.genmagic.com. URL3: http://www.sel.sony.com. URL4: http://www.metacrawler.com. URL5: http://haas.berkeley-edu/PFOlOheilman/agents/.
Wavish, P and Graham, M, 1994. “Roles, skills and behaviour” In: Wooldridge, M and Jennings, N (eds.), Intelligent Agents, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 890 Springer-Verlag, 371386.
Wavish, P and Graham, M, 1995. “A situated action approach to implementing characters in computer games” Applied AI Journal to appear.
Wayner, P, 1995a. “Free agents” Byte, 03, 105114.
Wayner, P, 1995b. Agents Unleashed: A Public Domain Look at Agent Technology AP Professional.
Wayner, P and Joch, A, 1995. “Agents of change” Byte, 03 9495.
Wiederhold, G, 1992. “Mediators in the architecture of future information systemsIEEE Computer 25 (3) 3849.
Wittig, T (ed), 1992. ARCHON: An Architecture for Multi-Agent Systems Ellis Horwood.
Wolfson, D, Voorhees, E and Flatley, M, 1989. “Intelligent routers” In: Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems DCS-9 Newport Beach, CA, 06 5–9. IEEE Press, 37 1376.
Wooldridge, M, 1995. “Conceptualising and developing agents” In: Proceedings of the UNICOM Seminar on Agent Software 252604, London, 4054.
Wooldridge, M and Jennings, N, 1995a. “Intelligent agents: theory and practiceThe Knoivledge Engineering Review 10 (2) 115152.
Wooldridge, M and Jennings, N (eds.), 1995b. Intelligent Agents, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 890 Springer-Verlag.
Wooldridge, M, Mueller, JP and Tambe, M, 1996. Intelligent Agents II, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence 1037 Springer-Verlag.
Zlotkin, G and Rosenschein, JS, 1989. “Negotiation and task sharing among autonomous agents in cooperative domains” In: Proceedings of the 11th IJCAI Detroit, MI, 912917.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Knowledge Engineering Review
  • ISSN: 0269-8889
  • EISSN: 1469-8005
  • URL: /core/journals/knowledge-engineering-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed