OMG Agent Working Group
Minutes of Meeting #9
Minutes: Craig Thompson and Jim Odell
March 6-7, 2000
Odell, Craig Thompson
Agent Working Group reports to ECDTF
and Internet PSIG
OMG Agent WG homepage: http://www.objs.com/agent
OMG Document: internet/00-03-02
... <official list coming soon from OMG central>
Craig Thompson, OBJS
Craig Thompson oriented the meeting
This was a segue into the following
what the Agent WG has done to date,
which includes (see http://www.objs.com/isig/agents.html):
agent technology RFI,
agent technology green paper,
agent technology white paper covering
policy and roadmap for RFPs,
educational role, and
the meeting agenda
Agent WG Steering Committee Recommendations,
Jim Odell reported the recommendations
of the Agent WG Steering Committee (Odell, Thompson, Levine, McCabe), which
met in the morning:
Current problems to agent technology
Options for Agent WG:
No one is making much money with agents
No compelling case to use agent technology
instead of a conventional approach
Not a safe harbor like objects and RDBs
No compelling-sounding RFPs
Not fully baked (e.g., ACL syntax, architecture)
Agent-object and Agent-XML coexistence
and interoperability not well understood.
Suggested direction for 2000:
Kill Agents WG - not warranted, too
much material and promise to take this route
Escalate via becoming an OMG Task Force
and issue RFPs - not yet warranted, too few industry players will respond
to RFPs at this time
Keep it low-level in 2000, but still
be useful in various ways
Become a Platform Special Interest Group
Flesh out RFPs (via whate paper)
Education (e.g., ACLs, agents vs objects,
critical infrastructure issues for agents)
Within Agent WG plenaries
Speaking to other OMG groups
Speaking to outside groups
Bring in new blood (new members, new
experiences, new specs, possible RFPs) e.g., DARPA and industry players
Sponsor agent issues forums (e.g., why
ACLs, how can we make agents pervasive by 2002)
started in 1996 with 50 organizational members (originally 50/50 industry/academic,
now 75/25, more European/Asian). It was originally dominated by broadcasting
and telecom companies (with a PDA vision). It has around ten standards.
FIPA is going through a sea change. The old regime left in
October and now they have a new process and new officers. The world
has changed. The focus continues to be ACL and cognitive agents that
know what they are doing, not ant communities, mobile objects, or stand
alone agents. FIPA continues to do work on its abstract architecture
as well as some work on higher level services. The next meeting is
in Portugal in April.
FIPA Liaison Report, Frank
Jim Odell reviewed the latest revision
of the Agents Technology
Green Paper, version 0.91 (OMG document ec/2000-03-01). Revised
material appears in Section 7 on the relationship of agents and objects
and in Section 11 on the Other Standards Organizations.
Technology Green Paper, James Odell
The Relationship of Agents and Objects, Craig Thompson, OBJS
This topic is shaping up to be very
important for OMG if we are to find good and widely useful ways for agents
and objects to co-exist and interoperate. Based on a discussion at
OMG Mesa, Craig Thompson revised Section 7 of the Agents
Technology Green Paper. [Inadvertantly, some useful older material
was removed and so we will add it back in soon.] There was some discussion
of whether comparison (similarity/dissimilarity) was the correct way to
communicate the relationship of two technologies. There was some strong
feeling that agents are not objects, and an opposing view that agents are
just objects with some new things that should be added anyway. There was
another view that we should just envision and describe a way of thinking
about autonomous, emergent, interactive entities—and label this as agents.
Then, determine how objects figure into this world. More viewpoints
and debate are needed. [Note a revised version of the section on
Relationship of Agents and Objects is now available as OMG document
containing material from both earlier versions.]
The purpose of the Agent
Technology White Paper and RFP Roadmap, OMG document
Internet/00-03-03, is to provide a rationale and roadmap for future RFPs.
[A new version of the document
reflecting the meeting discussion is OMG document
The current document reflects discussions held at the OMG Cambridge meeting
because we did not really discuss this topic at the OMG Mesa meeting.
The current list of higher priority RFP candidates is:
Message transport (aMail)
Agent communication language
Agent/object mobility (triaged)
UML profile for agents & ACL &
There are many other possible RFPs identified
in the white paper. This list indicates that the Agent area has several
areas where work leading toward standards is needed—and certainly could
justify making the Agents WG into a Task Force. However, there are not
(yet) enough resources to take on such a list. Also, many of the items
might be addressed by other standardization groups (e.g., FIPA). Frank
McCabe suggested that it’s not that it does not need doing, but who can/should
be doing it. Frank McCabe suggested that we initially select a small number
of RFPs that put agents on the OMG roadmap. Criteria that can affect
the ordering of RFPs include:
distributed, robust, large scale
It was decided that we don’t want to
commit to a specific RFP roadmap just yet, i.e., we don’t want to commit
to certain RFPs developed on a paticular timetable. This is because
we need to build a stronger case for these RFPs, how they relate to OMG,
and who in industry will respond to RFPs and develop compliant products.
However, we still currently recommend that the first two bundles of RFPS
Agent Interoperability RFP
Agent Communication RFP
We are attempting proactive standardization.
There is not yet a great body of agent technology to abstract and standardize;
we want to prevent the potential jungle of approaches. We want to benefit
the industry as a whole.
White Paper and RFP Roadmap Discussion, Craig Thompson, OBJS
After discussion, we agreed to the
following changes to the roadmap document (that Craig Thompson will make):
To make progress on the RFPs, we continued
discussions on the high priority candidates.
Add content for the sections describing
high priority RFPs. This may initially expose scope and issues and
later be refined into RFP descriptions.
Better clarify that the long laundry
list of possible RFPs is not in scope initially.
Back off from the current aggressive
schedule for RFPs until we make a stronger case for the core ones.
Discovery and Matchmaking, Craig Thompson
We discussed this RFP at the Mesa meeting
- see http://www.objs.com/agent/mtg08-minutes.html#AgentDiscovery
We decided that the ECDTF RFP on Resource Discovery was broad enough to
cover most of our needs. Craig Thompson will write this up as a revised
section on Agent Discovery for the white paper. Frank McCabe will
list some additional requirements he thinks the ECDTF RFP does not address
but are still needed to provide a discovery service useful to the agent
community. Steve McConnell provided this update concerning the Electronic
Commerce Registration and Discovery RFP: the RFP was successfully
issued during the Mesa meeting in Arizona (see http://www.omg.org/cgi-bin/doc?ec/00-01-05.pdf).
The LOI deadline is March 10, 2000 (Friday of the OMG meeting week).
Currently there is an LOI from OSM. CommerceNet intends to support
OSM in its submission (CommerceNet is not yet a member as as such cannot
LOI directly). The initial and revised submission dates are May 23
and November 6 respectively.
Identity Issues, David Levine
Agent identity is an important property,
but a difficult one to implement in a secure manner. Assigning an identification
is easy; hopping from identity to identity is problematic. Identity issomething
that serves to identify or refer to an entity. In this way, an agent could
be referred to by its name, a role that it is playing, or the fact that
it is a member of some organization, and so on. An agent, then, can have
multiple forms of identity. For example, a particular agent could simultaneously
be a purchasing agent working on behalf of user Rolf Smith; be playing
the role of a bidder in a negotiation with E-Widgets; having its software
composed of elements from company Exdeus; and having the serial number
98734501. Each of these identities might be important in different interactions.
Some identity related notions:
David Levine believes we are not far
from issuing an agent identity RFP. Issues are:
Authentication – Using some credential
model, ability to verify that the entity offering the credentials is who/what
it says it is.
Credential – An item offered to prove
that a user, a group, a software entity, a company, or other entities is
who or what it claims to be.
Examples: X.509 certificate, a user
login and password pair, a PGP key, a response/challenge key, a fingerprint,
a retinal scan, a photo id. Obviously, some of these are better suited
to software than others!
Credential Authority – An entity that
determines whether the credential offered is valid, and that the credential
accurately identifies the individual offering it.
Examples: X.509 certificate can be
validated by a certificate authority. At a bar, the bartender is the credential
authority who determines whether your photo id represents you.He then may
determine your access permissions to the available beverages!.
Credential model – The particular mechanism(s)
being used to provide and authenticate credentials.
David Levine will write this discussion
up as a section in the Agent Technology White Paper.
how does agent identity differ from
how does agent identity stretch the
security models already identified for objects
which companies are able and ready to
respond to such an RFP.
OMG SECSIG's Interoperable Security RFP, Donald Flinn, Concept5
Don Flinn (coming soon: OMG document internet/00-03-07) reviewed
the Security SIG's work on the Security Service (certificates, secure invocation,
authorization, accountability, security administration, security unaware
and aware applications, trust delegation, interceptors) and recent work
on interoperable interfaces. They are working to fit EJB into this
framework. Their next step is a roadmap discussion on next steps.
It is clear from the short discussions that got started on Agent Security
and Agent Identity that there is much more discussion needed. We
need more open ended time slots to discuss these topics. These are
planned for OMG Burlingame.
we discussed whether some of the security services are progenitors for
similar services that use interceptors to provide replication, versioning,
and other services and whether the work on policy languages and security
properties should therefore be genericized to service policy management
and service policies. Of couse, all these, like security, must be
assured so perhaps security is a way to go this.
we discussed what possible extensions to security are needed to enable
one area might be in making security policy and decisions clear to end
users. For instance, if an agent application appears on your desktop
and wants to access some of your files, do you let it? How does it
tell you its needs? This is partly a user interface and understandability
issue that might roadblock the use of agents if they are to become pervasive.
another area is, if rather than thinking of security as client server and
domain oriented, we think of an agent as implementing the entire security
mechanism so it is self contained and not just provided by some separate
infrastructure, does this break the security model. We are not sure
that it does. It might mean that a domain contains just one agent,
which would make agents heavyweight. There is also an issue of how
much the agent depends on its platform (the thing that executes its code)
- does it get the security services from the platform? does it trust
agent mobility appears to be a related area where the security model may
not provide everything the agent community will need.
we briefly discussed scaling up to millions of agents,
we also discussed (security) enclaves and policy management.
Oslo, Norway - June
Jim Odell, Frank McCabe and David Levine
might all be able to attend and organize this meeting which might provide
some education and/or OMG outreach and also discuss selected agent issues.
An agenda will be forthcoming from Jim and/or Frank.
CA - September 11-12 2000
This is likely to be an important meeting. We will try to make a
lot of progress on (a) educating OMG about agents and (b) resolving some
key issues roadblocking our progress. We also expect to progress
Agent WG to become an OMG SIG.
educating OMG about agents
agents and agent wg - Jim Odell - 1
ACL, ontology, and content languages
- ask Tim Finin - 2 hours
Architecture - David Levine
presentations to other OMG groups
Security - David Levine?
Manufacturing - Jim and Nenad
other OMG impact: EDOC
discuss key issues - provide input to
green or white paper
agent vs object - Craig, David, Jim
aMail - Frank
Green Paper work
revamp FIPA section (Frank)
Agent WG -> SIG
revise mission statement - Craig, Jim
Jim Odell (OMG document internet/00-03-05)
a presentation on Agent Social Networks. Small world networks focus
on the phenomena of closeness in networks. The Bacon Phenomena is
actor knows actor knows … Kevin Bacon. Urdish number - involves nearness
in citations . The entire web is only separated by 19 clicks of separation.
Analysis: Caveman network is lots of little islands and full connectivity
in a cave. Now interconnect into a ring. Star wheel - fragile
if you lose center. Fully connected is inefficient. A few local
connections and then 1% random connections and you get good benefits.
Marines are setting up interconnection experiments. Marines are using
this to locate resources - pool a bunch of guys across the services and
then when a need occurs they ask do I know someone who can do this.
Also, applied to western US power grid. Questions: domain of
applicability? Business benefits? This might be applied to
the federated directories problem. Disbursement of information, viruses,
information, diseases. Q: how is this related to Patti Mayes
Agent Social Networks, James Odell
on Agents to BODTF
Odell presentation, OMG document internet/00-03-06
on Agents and Agent WG to ORBOS TF
McCabe presentation, OMG document internet/00-03-04