OMG Agent Working Group

Minutes of Meeting #6

Minutes:  Craig Thompson (OBJS)

San Jose, CA
August 23-24, 1999

Co-chairs:  Stephen McConnell, James Odell, Craig Thompson

Agent Working Group reports to ECDTF and Internet PSIG
OMG Document internet/99-08-03

OMG Agent WG homepage:  http://www.objs.com/agent


Agenda


Attendee List

FIPA Overview and Liaison, Francis McCabe, Fujitsu

Francis is FIPA Liaison to OMG and OMG Liaison to FIPA.  FIPA meets quarterly.

FIPA has 50 companies working on agent standards.  The standards offer three things:  public semantics for messages, models for building agent platforms, and models for integrating agents with existing paradigms.  Specific standards are:  abstract architecture for agent platforms, ACL and ontology, agent management, message transport, integration with non-agent systems, human agent interaction, mobility.  See Attachment.

FIPA views OMG as threatening but many agent apps will happen in OMG technologies.  OMG views FIPA as AI nerds.  But the two groups also see values in working together.  At the San Francisco FIPA meeting last month, a main topic was to determine the form of submission to the OMG Agent RFI.  FIPA ACL supports beliefs, desire, intents (BDI) based on speech act work.  Based in predicate calculus.  Ontologies are just shared semantic models.  No a priori requirement that the agents themselves understand ACL BDI.  Agents can return the Not Understood message.  Current ACL is string syntax, moving to more abstract syntax.  Agent management is register me and de-register me.  Directory Services.  Message transport.  Agent configuration coming soon.  Suggest OMG agent services RFP.  A few basic ideas:  policy, domain, action, message, service.

FIPA Architecture TC Report, Francis McCabe, Fujitsu

FIPA was formerly too tied to strings in ACL and IIOP but was not interface future-proofed so wanted a more abstract architecture.  Reify the abstract architecture into QoS, security, representation, APIs.  Key concepts:  agent, agent platform, policy, domain, name, message, ontology, and more.  Agent is computational process that implements the autonomous communication functionality of an application.

Agent platform is collection of services that provide an infrastructure in which agent can be deployed.  Platform services, standard services.  Deeper level of interoperability where agents understand how to register, not just the interface.  Ö defined terms like domain, speech act, ontology, Ö  Ontology reference in the message.  Conversation factory for creating conversation objects - pattern higher level than individual agents.  Will have CORBA and Java parts of the standards.  Moving to use UML to write down specs.  In the abstract architecture there is no IIOP.  Today to insure interoperability, FIPA requires the use of IIOP.  But in future agents can specify their interop models.  Any inter-protocol bridge preserves the semantics.

Next FIPA meeting is in Kowasaki on 18-22 October 1999.  See FIPA web site www.fipa.org.  FIPA meets for a week quarterly open to members and submitters.

FIPA Agent UML, "James Odell

Another FIPA TC group is using sequence diagrams from UML to express behavior.  Shows series of UML plus extensions to represent agent communication.  N agents send CA communication act to M agents possibly with {constraints}.  Added in AND and synchronization point added to sequence points.  Also added parallelism.  Wanted to have a way to specify protocols (bundles or conversations or patterns).  Shows initiator sending in paper to be reviewed.  Packaging.  This is a variant to the state machine approach but with agents you do not want to specify state, just the observable interactions.  Q: are these extensions just for agents.  No, for anyone needing to specify patterns.

Agent WG Green Paper Status, James Odell

The green paper collects info on agent technology areas.  The latest copy is on the web at the Agent WG homepage.  Newest additions are sections on agents and objects and an Agent Glossary.  Several people have promised sections for the next meeting.

Agents Profile RFP Status, James Odell

How do I build stuff and select a view or profile for my own needs.  On MOF is a UML, Data Warehouse, on top is a view or specialization into it.  For instance, a specialization.  Select subset and subtype and add "stereotypes"  to it.  We have four RFPs containing profile.  Should there be one for agents?  Led to discussion but no conclusion. Further work is being done on firming up the definition of "profile" by the UML RTF. It is advised that we wait untiol that work is done.

Agent Technology RFI Response Submissions

Two meetings ago we issued the Agent Technology RFI.  We received the following responses.

FIPA Submission:  Collection of Agent Standards, Francis McCabe

OBJS Submission:  Agent Grid, Craig Thompson, OBJS

Monadís Agent RFI Response, Kimmo Raatikainen, U Helsinki

Shows arch diagram for storage services, brokering services, profile management, knowledge services, security services, tracing services, communication services, and management services.

Climate RFI Response, Kimmo Raatikainen, U Helsinki

NIST-SEI-ORNL RFI response, Architectural Evaluation of Agent-Based Systems in Manufacturing, John Robert, SEI

Toshiba Agent RFI Response, Takahiro Kawamura, Toshiba

Plangent - An intelligent Mobile Agent System, Masanori Hattori, Toshiba

Discussion related to RFI and Possible RFPs

Next main steps for the group:  a family of RFPs/specs that sum to provide agent technology.  And should there be an agent TF or work through an existing group.  Separate these issues, focus on the first one. The following RFPs were suggested as possibilites during the next year:

Presentation:  Domain Brokerage Headsup, Steve McConnell

Steve briefed us on this RFP.  It's an extension of EC domain specs.  Notions are caabilities, registration and mediated discovery, collectively referred to as a brokerage.  Involves disclosure constraints on broker - disclosure identity constraints (assassin), legal constraints (terms and conditions), deployment descriptor, activation conditions.  Computational viewpoints:  registry viewpoint (supply or demand).  Directory I/F is for querying.  Organizational viewpoint:  an agency that aggregates registry and directory.  Discussion:  another kind of brokerage is a travel agent where the broker takes on the responsibility to delegate and get the service done (by others).  Very close to agent directory facilitator.  Brokerage can have policy on types of services that can register.  This in some ways is similar to extending the trader with additional specializations.



ATTACHMENT:  FIPA RFI Response

RE: Letter from FIPA
sent by Leonardo Chiariglione to agents@omg.org on Tue, 03 Aug 1999 22:41:15
 
Agent Technology Desk
Object Management Group Inc.
Framingham Corporate Center
492 Old Connecticut Path
Framingham, MA 01701-4568
USA
Torino, 03/08/99
Dear Sirs,
FIPA, the Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents, welcomes OMG's
interest in agent technology. FIPA has been working to develop and promote
standardization in the area of agent interoperability since 1996. FIPA has
an on-going work programme, meeting around the globe on a quarterly basis,
with excess of 50 member organisations. With 3.5 years of existence and the
extensive specifications produced (see http://www.fipa.org/), we believe
FIPA is the reference organisation in intelligent agents. OMG has an
important role in creating the link between the OMG and FIPA agents.
Considering the potential synergy of interests regarding agents, it is
proposed that FIPA and OMG discuss formal mechanisms whereby the two
standardisation efforts become concordant.
In support of this and considering the OMG RFI, FIPA recommends that the OMG
consider the specifications that have been developed by FIPA as a background
to OMG's possible future standardization efforts.
While FIPA's work is very much work in progress, a number of significant
documents have been produced that may be of interest to the OMG's work:
1. The Agent communication language.
* http://www.fipa.org/spec/f8a22.zip
This details the syntax and semantics of a high-level agent communication
language that is based on speech acts. A primary benefit of employing this
language is that the semantics of communication can be preserved in an open
manner.
2. Agent/software integration
* ftp://ftp.fipa.org/Specs/FIPA97/f7a13pdf.zip
This specification details a standard way in which non-agent based software
can be integrated into a FIPA agent platform.
3. Agent Management
http://fipa.umbc.edu/mirror/spec/fipa8a23.doc
This specification, which also draws on http://www.fipa.og/spec/f8a21.doc,
outlines the necessary specifications needed for managing agents on an agent
platform. A point of particular interest to the OMG is the mandatory use of
IIOP as the baseline transport protocol. It is envisaged that other
transport protocols may be standardised to meet specific needs e.g. for
wireless applications.
4. Human/agent interaction
* http://www.fipa.org/spec/fipa8a24.zip
This details models for integrating agents with human participation.
5. Agent mobility
* http://www.fipa.org/spec/fipa8a27.doc
This details various models and protocols to support agent mobility between
agent platforms.
6. Ontology services
* http://www.fipa.org/spec/fipa8a28.zip
This details specifications for managing ontology services and ontology
models in a consistent and open framework.
7. Agent naming
* http://www/fipa.org/spec/fipa9716.PDF
This specification, which is not yet officially adopted by FIPA, outlines
models for consistent naming of agents.
8. Message transport
* http://www.fipa.org/spec/fipa9716.PDF
This specification, which is not yet officially adopted by FIPA,outlines the
requirements and specifications of messaging services between agents and
between agent platforms.
In addition, we recommend that OMG seriously consider:
* http://www.fipa.org/spec/fipa9710.pdf
Many of the questions in the OMG RFI are being addressed in this FIPA
Architecture Overview document; however, this is work in progress and may
change significantly in the coming months.
More generally, FIPA welcomes visitors to it's web pages at
http://www.fipa.org, and the mirror sites in Japan
http://fipa.comtec.co.jp/index-e.html and the USA http://fipa.umbc.edu/.
FIPA implementations are currently pre-commercial, but there are in excess
of 10 frameworks under development.
We hope this information will be of use to the OMG and its membership, and
contribute to the future success of the agent paradigm. OMG members wishing
to participate in a FIPA meeting will be welcome and should contact the FIPA
Secretariat Teresa Marsico (secretariat@fipa.org) in the first instance.
Sincerely,
FIPA Board of Directors