Foundations of Software Agent Technology

Dedicated to turning the construction and deployment of Software Agent Technology (including Intelligent Agents, Intelligent Software Agents, Autonomous Agents, Autonomous Software Agents, Multi-Agent Systems, Agent Technology, Intelligent Agent Technology, and Agent-Based Computing) into more of a science rather than merely folklore and ad-hoc art and craft.

A New Software Agent Server - Looking for technical evaluators for feedback

I have developed a new software agent server designed to provide a safe environment in which both developers and advanced users can develop and deploy powerful but simple software agents for web computing and I am looking for a few advanced technical evaluators to give me feedback and direction before I finalize my development plans. I am especially interested in high-end data providers and high-end data consumers who are looking for how to make more data be more easily consumable. The software is open source under the Apache License Version 2.0, 100% Java, and currently available on GitHub. It is free to download as is, but I am also interested in consulting and contract opportunities to enhance and customize the software.

Click here for more information.

"Agents are one of the most prominent and attractive technologies in computer science at the beginning of the new millennium" -- Call for Participation, 4th International Joint Conference AAMAS on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems

"Agent-based systems are one of the most vibrant and important areas of research and development to have emerged in information technology in the 1990's" -- European Commission's AgentLink III Coordination Action for Agent-Based Computing Agent Technology Roadmap

"Autonomous agent technology is an idea whose time has come" -- Dr. Lewis Johnson, visionary researcher in artificial intelligence at the University of Southern California, and chair of the Agents '97 conference

"Agents will bring about a revolution" -- Pattie Maes of MIT,  Program Co-Chair of the Agents'97 conference

[2008... "Hal? ... Hal? ... Haaalllll? Where aaaarrreeee yyyooouuu??!!]

To get an idea where where we're headed, read our white paper: "The Consumer-Centric Knowledge Web - A Vision of Consumer Applications of Software Agent Technology - Enabling Consumer-Centric Knowledge-Based Computing". Or directly view my PowerPoint presentation on The Consumer-Centric Knowledge Web.

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First we have to ask the obvious question: What is a Software Agent?

The field of software agents is primarily a research area and researchers are as yet unable to agree on a common definition for the term, so I'll offer my own definition:

A software agent (or autonomous agent or intelligent agent) is a computer program which works toward goals (as opposed to discrete tasks) in a dynamic environment (where change is the norm) on behalf of another entity (human or computational), possibly over an extended period of time, without continuous direct supervision or control, and exhibits a significant degree of flexibility and even creativity in how it seeks to transform goals into action tasks.

A software agent system (or multi-agent system (MAS)) is a computational environment (such as the Web or a grid computing environment overlay network) in which individual software agents interact with each other, sometime in a cooperative manner, sometimes in a competitive manner, and sometimes autonomously pursuing their individual goals, accessing resources and services of the environment, and occasionally producing results for the entities that initiated those software agents.

For my detailed definition, Click here.

For a brief summary of the basic concepts of software agents, Click here.

Reasons for Software Agents

Why do we need software agent technology?  For the answer(s), click here.

Click here for a brief summary of The Potential for Software Agents.

Intellectual Property

Click here for issues of Intellectual Property (IP) as they relate to software agents.

Issues, Thoughts, and Questions

Consider my preliminary list of Software Agent Technology Questions, which is not a truly comprehensive list, but a good starting point.

As the field of Software Agents is still quite new and immature, I have endeavored to catalog my thoughts on the outstanding issuesClick here.

How "intelligent" does a software agent have to be to be considered an "Intelligent Agent" (or "Intelligent Software Agent")?  Click here for discussion of intelligent software agents.

I also have a number of preliminary, random thoughts on software agents that are not yet organized enough to make the preceding list.  Click here.


For an intriguing potential application of Software Agent Technology, Life Agents for Life Management, click here.

Read our thoughts about how software agent technology can be applied for the benefit of consumers in "The Consumer-Centric Knowledge Web - A Vision of Consumer Applications of Software Agent Technology - Enabling Consumer-Centric Knowledge-Based Computing". See our resource page for The Consumer-centric Knowledge Web.

Semantic Web

The Semantic Web may or may not play a primary role in the widespread adoption of software agent technology. My presumption at this stage is that it will, but that remains to be seen. I am reserving judgment as to whether the Semantic Web will be a pillar or foundation for software agent technology.

For now, I am quite concerned about the yawning chasm, the so-called semantic gap, or what I call The Semantic Abyss, which makes it difficult or at least problematic to align the semantics of the Semantic Web with meaning in the real world and for real users and notably consumers.

Check out our Semantic Web Glossary. It is just a placeholder list of terms and phrases for now, but gradually I will fill in meaningful definitions. I suspect that it should be turned into a publicly accessible wiki.

Check out our our growing list of Semantic Web Tools.


For our latest thoughts on software agent technology, check out our blog.

Also see our blog on the Semantic Web, The Semantic Abyss - Plumbing the Semantic Web.


Check out our list of books related to Software Agents.  Click here.


Click here to view our listing of tools and toolkits for the development of software agents.


Click here to view our software agent glossary.


Click here to view our thoughts on a software agent ontology.


For our links to software agent technology resources on the web, click here.

Check out UMBC AgentWeb and UMBC AgentNews and sign up for their electronic newsletter.

To read some more of my thoughts on software agents, click here.

State of the Art

Click here to read our current view of the State of the Art for software agent technology.

Also take a look at the European Commission's AgentLink III Agent Technology Roadmap.

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Updated: April 22, 2012 05:36:27 PM -0400

Copyright © 2012 John W. Krupansky d/b/a Base Technology