Next Previous Contents

6. Agents

Also known as intelligent software agents or just agents, this area of AI research deals with simple applications of small programs that aid the user in his/her work. They can be mobile (able to stop their execution on one machine and resume it on another) or static (live in one machine). They are usually specific to the task (and therefore fairly simple) and meant to help the user much as an assistant would. The most popular (ie. widely known) use of this type of application to date are the web robots that many of the indexing engines (eg. webcrawler) use.


This package synthesizes two well-known agent paradigms: Agent-Oriented Programming, Shoham (1990), and the Knowledge Query & Manipulation Language, Finin (1993). The initial implementation of AOP, Agent-0, is a simple language for specifying agent behaviour. KQML provides a standard language for inter-agent communication. Our integration (which we have called Agent-K) demonstrates that Agent-0 and KQML are highly compatible. Agent-K provides the possibility of inter-operable (or open) software agents, that can communicate via KQML and which are programmed using the AOP approach.


The Agent is a prototype for an Information Agent system. It is both platform and language independent, as it stores contained information in simple packed strings. It can be packed and shipped across any network with any format, as it freezes itself in its current state.


Another Java based agent development framework. Fairly unique in that it emphasizes the use of a GUI for designing the system which will "semi-automatically synthesize multiagent systems to meet those requirements". You need a java enabled browser to download. :P

Aglets Workbench

An aglet is a Java object that can move from one host on the Internet to another. That is, an aglet that executes on one host can suddenly halt execution, dispatch to a remote host, and resume execution there. When the aglet moves, it takes along its program code as well as its state (data). A built-in security mechanism makes it safe for a computer to host untrusted aglets. The Java Aglet API (J-AAPI) is a proposed public standard for interfacing aglets and their environment. J-AAPI contains methods for initializing an aglet, message handling, and dispatching, retracting, deactivating/activating, cloning, and disposing of the aglet. J-AAPI is simple, flexible, and stable. Application developers can write platform-independent aglets and expect them to run on any host that supports J-AAPI.


The ALICE software implements AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language), a non-standard evolving markup language for creating chat robots. The primary design feature of AIML is minimalism. Compared with other chat robot languages, AIML is perhaps the simplest. The pattern matching language is very simple, for example permitting only one wild-card ('*') match character per pattern. AIML is an XML language, implying that it obeys certain grammatical meta-rules. The choice of XML syntax permits integration with other tools such as XML editors. Another motivation for XML is its familiar look and feel, especially to people with HTML experience.


Ara is a platform for the portable and secure execution of mobile agents in heterogeneous networks. Mobile agents in this sense are programs with the ability to change their host machine during execution while preserving their internal state. This enables them to handle interactions locally which otherwise had to be performed remotely. Ara's specific aim in comparison to similar platforms is to provide full mobile agent functionality while retaining as much as possible of established programming models and languages.


AI programming game where you design the bot by selecting hardware and programming its CPU, then competing with other bots. Competitions can have teams and special rules for a game.

The hardware for use in your bot includes weapons, engine, scanners, CPU, etc. The programming lauguage is dependent on the CPU type and is similar to an assembly language.


Bee-gent is a new type of development framework in that it is a 100% pure agent system. As opposed to other systems which make only some use of agents, Bee-gent completely "Agentifies" the communication that takes place between software applications. The applications become agents, and all messages are carried by agents. Thus, Bee-gent allows developers to build flexible open distributed systems that make optimal use of existing applications.


Yet another java agent system...

Bond is a Java based distributed object system and agent framework. It implements a message based middleware and associated services like directory, persistence, monitoring and security. Bond allows to easily build multi agent, distributed applications. Another application of Bond will be a Virtual Laboratory supporting data annotation and metacomputing.


Another AI-robot battle simulation. Utilizing probablistic logic as a machine learning technique. Written in C++ (with C++ bots).


Cadaver is a simulated world of cyborgs and nature in realtime. The battlefield consists of forests, grain, water, grass, carcass (of course) and lots of other things. The game server manages the game and the rules. You start a server and connect some clients. The clients communicate with the server using a very primitive protocol. They can order cyborgs to harvest grain, attack enemies or cut forest. The game is not intended to be played by humans! There is too much to control. Only for die-hards: Just telnet to the server and you can enter commands by hand. Instead the idea is that you write artificial intelligence clients to beat the other artificial intelligences. You can choose a language (and operating system) of your choice to do that task. It is enough to write a program that communicates on standard input and standard output channels. Then you can use programs like "socket" to connect your clients to the server. It is NOT needed to write TCP/IP code, although i did so :) The battle shall not be boring, and so there is the so called spyboss client that displays the action graphically on screen.

D'Agent (was AGENT TCL)

A transportable agent is a program that can migrate from machine to machine in a heterogeneous network. The program chooses when and where to migrate. It can suspend its execution at an arbitrary point, transport to another machine and resume execution on the new machine. For example, an agent carrying a mail message migrates first to a router and then to the recipient's mailbox. The agent can perform arbitrarily complex processing at each machine in order to ensure that the message reaches the intended recipient.


Dunce is a simple chatterbot (conversational AI) and a language for programming such chatterbots. It uses a basic regex pattern matching and a semi-neural rule/response firing mechanism (with excitement/decay cycles).

Dunce is listed about halfway down the page.


FIPA-OS is an open source implementation of the mandatory elements contained within the FIPA specification for agent interoperability. In addition to supporting the FIPA interoperability concepts, FIPA-OS also provides a component based architecture to enable the development of domain specific agents which can utilise the services of the FIPA Platform agents. It is implemented in Java.


FM - The FishMarket project conducted at the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (IIIA-CSIC) attempts to contribute in that direction by developing FM, an agent-mediated electronic auction house which has been evolved into a test-bed for electronic auction markets. The framework, conceived and implemented as an extension of FM96.5 (a Java-based version of the Fishmarket auction house), allows to define trading scenarios based on fish market auctions (Dutch auctions). FM provides the framework wherein agent designers can perform controlled experimentation in such a way that a multitude of experimental market scenarios--that we regard as tournament scenarios due to the competitive nature of the domain-- of varying degrees of realism and complexity can be specified, activated, and recorded; and trading (buyer and seller) heterogeneous (human and software) agents compared, tuned and evaluated.

GNU Robots

GNU Robots is a game/diversion where you construct a program for a little robot, then watch him explore a world. The world is filled with baddies that can hurt you, objects that you can bump into, and food that you can eat. The goal of the game is to collect as many prizes as possible before are killed by a baddie or you run out of energy. Robots can be written in Guile scheme or using a GUI.


Another Java agent system. Full featured and actively developed. Commercial, but free. Historically targeted at embedded systems.


Hive is a Java software platform for creating distributed applications. Using Hive, programmers can easily create systems that connect and use data from all over the Internet. At its heart, Hive is an environment for distributed agents to live, communicating and moving to fulfill applications. We are trying to make the Internet alive.


The Inter-Agent Communication Model (ICM) is a communication mechanism that can be used for sending messages between agents in an asynchronous fashion. Its intended application area is as a transportation mechanism for agent communication languages (ACLs), such as KQML and FIPA's ACL.


Jacomma is an agent development platform/framework for developing distributed, mobile, and reactive information agents with heterogeneous communication capabilities, in Java and JPython.

Jacomma provides a development framework and an execution environment, which sits on top of the Inter-Agent Communication Model infrastructure. The ICM defines a communication protocol, a store and forward messaging architecture, and low level communication infrastructure for message exchange. Communication is truly asynchronous, based on TCP sockets.

ICM has an entry in this howto, or you can find it via a link off the site.


JADE (Java Agent DEvelopment Framework) is a software framework fully implemented in Java language. It simplifies the implementation of multi-agent systems through a middle-ware that claims to comply with the FIPA specifications and through a set of tools that supports the debugging and deployment phase. The agent platform can be distributed across machines (which not even need to share the same OS) and the configuration can be controlled via a remote GUI. The configuration can be even changed at run-time by moving agents from one machine to another one, as and when required.


JAFMAS provides a framework to guide the coherent development of multiagent systems along with a set of classes for agent deployment in Java. The framework is intended to help beginning and expert developers structure their ideas into concrete agent applications. It directs development from a speech-act perspective and supports multicast and directed communication, KQML or other speech-act performatives and analysis of multiagent system coherency and consistency.

Only four of the provided Java classes must be extended for any application. Provided examples of the N-Queens and Supply Chain Integration use only 567 and 1276 lines of additional code respectively for implementation.

JAM Agent

JAM supports both top-down, goal-based reasoning and bottom-up data-driven reasoning. JAM selects goals and plans based on maximal priority if metalevel reasoning is not used, or user-developed metalevel reasoning plans if they exist. JAM's conceptualization of goals and goal achievement is more classically defined (UMPRS is more behavioral performance-based than truly goal-based) and makes the distinction between plans to achieve goals and plans that simply encode behaviors. Goal-types implemented include achievement (attain a specified world state), maintenance (re-attain a specified world state), and performance. Execution of multiple simultaneous goals are supported, with suspension and resumption capabilities for each goal (i.e., intention) thread. JAM plans have explicit precondition and runtime attributes that restrict their applicability, a postcondition attribute, and a plan attributes section for specifying plan/domain-specific plan features. Available plan constructs include: sequencing, iteration, subgoaling, atomic (i.e., non-interruptable) plan segments, n-branch deterministic and non-deterministic conditional execution, parallel execution of multiple plan segments, goal-based or world state-based synchronization, an explicit failure-handling section, and Java primitive function definition through building it into JAM as well as the invocation of predefined (i.e., legacy) class members via Java's reflection capabilities without having to build it into JAM.


JATLite is providing a set of java packages which makes easy to build multi-agent systems using Java. JATLite provides only light-weight, small set of packages so that the developers can handle all the packages with little efforts. For flexibility JATLite provides four different layers from abstract to Router implementation. A user can access any layer we are providing. Each layer has a different set of assumptions. The user can choose an appropriate layer according to the assumptions on the layer and user's application. The introduction page contains JATLite features and the set of assumptions for each layer.


Java(tm) Agent Template

The JAT provides a fully functional template, written entirely in the Java language, for constructing software agents which communicate peer-to-peer with a community of other agents distributed over the Internet. Although portions of the code which define each agent are portable, JAT agents are not migratory but rather have a static existence on a single host. This behavior is in contrast to many other "agent" technologies. (However, using the Java RMI, JAT agents could dynamically migrate to a foreign host via an agent resident on that host). Currently, all agent messages use KQML as a top-level protocol or message wrapper. The JAT includes functionality for dynamically exchanging "Resources", which can include Java classes (e.g. new languages and interpreters, remote services, etc.), data files and information inlined into the KQML messages.


Java-To-Go is an experimental infrastructure that assists in the development and experimentation of mobile agents and agent-based applications for itinerative computing (itinerative computing: the set of applications that requires site-to-site computations. The main emphasis here is on a easy-to-setup environment that promotes quick experimentation on mobile agents.


Kafka is yet another agent library designed for constructing multi-agent based distributed applications. Kafka is a flexible, extendable, and easy-to-use java class library for programmers who are familiar with distributed programming. It is based on Java's RMI and has the following added features:

Khepera Simulator

Khepera Simulator is a public domain software package written by Olivier MICHEL during the preparation of his Ph.D. thesis, at the Laboratoire I3S, URA 1376 of CNRS and University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, France. It allows to write your own controller for the mobile robot Khepera using C or C++ languages, to test them in a simulated environment and features a nice colorful X11 graphical interface. Moreover, if you own a Khepera robot, it can drive the real robot using the same control algorithm. It is mainly oriented toward to researchers studying autonomous agents.


Lyntin is an extensible Mud client and framework for the creation of autonomous agents, or bots, as well as mudding in general. Lyntin is centered around Python, a dynamic, object-oriented, and fun programming language and based on TinTin++ a lovely mud client.


Mole is an agent system supporting mobile agents programmed in Java. Mole's agents consist of a cluster of objects, which have no references to the outside, and as a whole work on tasks given by the user or another agent. They have the ability to roam a network of "locations" autonomously. These "locations" are an abstraction of real, existing nodes in the underlying network. They can use location-specific resources by communicating with dedicated agents representing these services. Agents are able to use services provided by other agents and to provide services as well.


Narval is the acronym of "Network Assistant Reasoning with a Validating Agent Language". It is a personal network assistant based on artificial intelligence and agent technologies. It executes recipes (sequences of actions) to perform tasks. It is easy to specify a new action using XML and to implement it using Python. Recipes can be built and debugged using a graphical interface.


NeL is actually a game development library (for massive multi-player games), but I'm including it here as it (will) include a fairly sizable AI library. Here's a blurb from the whitepaper:

The purpose of the AI library is to provide a pragmatic approach to creating a distributed agents platform. Its focus is agents; individual entities that communicate regardless of location, using an action-reaction model.


AI (Programmable Artificial Intelligence) is a program capable of having a conversation in its mother tongue, English. Written in C++.


Penguin is a Perl 5 module. It provides you with a set of functions which allow you to:

The combination of these functions enable direct Perl coding of algorithms to handle safe internet commerce, mobile information-gathering agents, "live content" web browser helper apps, distributed load-balanced computation, remote software update, distance machine administration, content-based information propagation, Internet-wide shared-data applications, network application builders, and so on.


Ps-i is an environment for running agent-based simulations. It is cross-platform, with binaries available for Win32. Features include:


RealTimeBattle is a programming game, in which robots controlled by programs are fighting each other. The goal is to destroy the enemies, using the radar to examine the environment and the cannon to shoot.

Remembrance Agents

Remembrance Agents are a set of applications that watch over a user's shoulder and suggest information relevant to the current situation. While query-based memory aids help with direct recall, remembrance agents are an augmented associative memory. For example, the word-processor version of the RA continuously updates a list of documents relevant to what's being typed or read in an emacs buffer. These suggested documents can be any text files that might be relevant to what you are currently writing or reading. They might be old emails related to the mail you are currently reading, or abstracts from papers and newspaper articles that discuss the topic of your writing.


SimRobot is a program for simulation of sensor based robots in a 3D environment. It is written in C++, runs under UNIX and X11 and needs the graphics toolkit XView.


A framework called Sulawesi has been designed and implemented to tackle what has been considered to be important challenges in a wearable user interface. The ability to accept input from any number of modalities, and perform if necessary a translation to any number of modal outputs. It does this primarily through a set of proactive agents to act on the input.


TclRobots is a programming game, similar to 'Core War'. To play TclRobots, you must write a Tcl program that controls a robot. The robot's mission is to survive a battle with other robots. Two, three, or four robots compete during a battle, each running different programs (or possibly the same program in different robots.) Each robot is equipped with a scanner, cannon, drive mechanism. A single match continues until one robot is left running. Robots may compete individually, or combine in a team oriented battle. A tournament can be run with any number of robot programs, each robot playing every other in a round-robin fashion, one-on-one. A battle simulator is available to help debug robot programs.

The TclRobots program provides a physical environment, imposing certain game parameters to which all robots must adhere. TclRobots also provides a view on a battle, and a controlling user interface. TclRobots requirements: a wish interpreter built from Tcl 7.4 and Tk 4.0.


TKQML is a KQML application/addition to Tcl/Tk, which allows Tcl based systems to communicate easily with a powerful agent communication language.

The Tocoma Project

An agent is a process that may migrate through a computer network in order to satisfy requests made by clients. Agents are an attractive way to describe network-wide computations.

The TACOMA project focuses on operating system support for agents and how agents can be used to solve problems traditionally addressed by operating systems. We have implemented a series of prototype systems to support agents.

TACOMA Version 1.2 is based on UNIX and TCP. The system supports agents written in C, Tcl/Tk, Perl, Python, and Scheme (Elk). It is implemented in C. This TACOMA version has been in public domain since April 1996.

We are currently focusing on heterogeneity, fault-tolerance, security and management issues. Also, several TACOMA applications are under construction. We implemented StormCast 4.0, a wide-area network weather monitoring system accessible over the internet, using TACOMA and Java. We are now in the process of evaluating this application, and plan to build a new StormCast version to be completed by June 1997.


Ummon is an advanced Open Source chatterbot. The main principle of the bot is that it has no initial knowledge of either words or grammar; it learns everything "on the fly." Numerous AI techniques will be explored in the development of Ummon to achieve realistic "human" communication with support for different, customizable personalities.


UMPRS supports top-down, goal-based reasoning and selects goals and plans based on maximal priority. Execution of multiple simultaneous goals are supported, with suspension and resumption capabilities for each goal (i.e., intention) thread. UMPRS plans have an integrated precondition/runtime attribute that constrain their applicability. Available plan constructs include: sequencing, iteration, subgoaling, atomic (i.e., non-interruptable) blocks, n-branch deterministic conditional execution, explicit failure-handling section, and C++ primitive function definition.

Virtual Secretary Project (ViSe)


The motivation of the Virtual Secretary project is to construct user-model-based intelligent software agents, which could in most cases replace human for secretarial tasks, based on modern mobile computing and computer network. The project includes two different phases: the first phase (ViSe1) focuses on information filtering and process migration, its goal is to create a secure environment for software agents using the concept of user models; the second phase (ViSe2) concentrates on agents' intelligent and efficient cooperation in a distributed environment, its goal is to construct cooperative agents for achieving high intelligence. (Implemented in Tcl/TclX/Tix/Tk)


Vworld is a simulated environment for research with autonomous agents written in prolog. It is currently in something of an beta stage. It works well with SWI-prolog, but should work with Quitnus-prolog with only a few changes. It is being designed to serve as an educational tool for class projects dealing with prolog and autonomous agents. It comes with three demo worlds or environments, along with sample agents for them. There are two versions now. One written for SWI-prolog and one written for LPA-prolog. Documentation is roughly done (with a student/professor framework in mind), and a graphical interface is planned.


WebMate is a personal agent for World-Wide Web browsing and searching. It accompanies you when you travel on the internet and provides you what you want.

Features include:


The construction of multi-agent systems involves long development times and requires solutions to some considerable technical difficulties. This has motivated the development of the ZEUS toolkit, which provides a library of software components and tools that facilitate the rapid design, development and deployment of agent system

Next Previous Contents