The explosive growth of the Web is perhaps the single most important event in the history of computing technology. What started as an information infrastructure is now turning into an infrastructure encompassing both information and applications, and is becoming the backbone for the commercial deployment of the Internet.
Additional keywords and phrases:
Web Objects, XML, Java, CORBA, multimedia,
Although many of the ideas and concepts underlying agents have been a topic of research for decades, notably issues concerning distributed systems and programming language design, the notion of agents itself hase become a major research topic only recently. A survey of agent theories, architectures and languages is given in [ Survey]. As concerns agent theories, the main focus of attention lies on a logical analysis of intentional notions underlying the behavior o research groups Interne t,Softbots,Software,Architecture,Survey. However, one may observe a divergence between purely formal approaches and purely pragmatical approaches, that provide an operational realization of agents lacking a solid foundation.
Although many of the ideas and concepts underlying agents have been a topic of research for decades, notably issues concerning distributed systems and programming language design, the notion of agents itself hase become a major research topic only recently.:u single agents, whereas for agent architectures issues of communication and cooperation between agents have been addressed in more detail. In [ Survey], concurrent l ogic programming languages are considered to be the ancestors of agent languages. Of immediate relevance for our own work is the Oasis programming language described in [ Oasis], which bears a close resemblance to the distributed logic programming language DLP [ DLP]. Recently, commercial agent systems have been developed for the Web. For example, General Magic has launched its Telescript Agent System, a system that employs mobile agents defined in General Magic's Telescript language. Also in [ Internet], a number of agent-like programs are described. We are reluctant to qualify these systems as 'agents', however, since they are defined in a purely operational way. We find, for complex agents anyway, a more explicit representation of the intentional aspects desirable.
In a recent issue of the CACM( 37(7), July 1994), some current trends and applications of agent research are presented. From our perspective we consider as important representatives of ongoing research: [ Software], that describes the agent communication language KQML (Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language); [ Architecture], which describes the complexity of integrating collections of agents; and [ Softbots], which describes a number of simple agents for facilitating access to the Web.
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