Object Services and Consulting,
Agility: Agent -Ility Architecture
Annual Report for FY01
DARPA Contract No. F30602-98-C-0159 AO J357
Contract Duration: 18 June 1998 - 17 June 2002
This research is sponsored by
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and managed by the U.S. Air
Force Research Laboratory under contract F30602-98-C-0159.
The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors
and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either
expressed or implied, of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,
U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, or the United States Government.
note: FY01 accomplishments in
The objective of the Agility project is to develop
an open agent grid architecture populated with scalable, deployable, industrial
strength agent grid components, targeting the theme "agents for the masses."
Specific goals are to develop: a light-weight agent system that uses email
for message transport (eGents), a constrained natural language interface
system that can wrap agents and other Internet resources and operate over
the web (AgentGram), and a yellow pages service that uses Internet search
engines to locate XML ads for agents and other Internet resources (WebTrader).
These components should operate standalone or together and interoperate
with the CoABS grid.
Today's agent systems are monolithic, centralized,
and do not provide a clear migration path for integration with mainstream
technologies (e.g., object and web technologies). As a consequence, though
agent technology is identified as a promising high impact DoD software
technology, it is not significantly impacting DoD, software technology
or the mass market. Our overall technical approach is to deconstruct agent
systems into components, then populate an open agent grid architecture
with scalable light-weight agent grid components that are engineered to
piggyback on existing and emerging standards (e.g., distributed objects,
email, web, search engines, XML, Java, Jini).
In FY99-FY00, our paper Characterizing the
Agent Grid impacted the CoABS grid architecture and our work on componentizing
agent system architectures impacted the OMG Agent SIG's Green Paper
on Agent Technology - and we continue to co-chair that group.
To demonstrate our component-based approach, in the first two years of
the contract, we are developed prototypes of the three agent grid components
described above (eGents, AgentGram, and WebTrader).
In FY01, we focused most of our effort on eGents
(agents communicating via email) because of the widespread potential impact
to DoD and industry. The potential impact of eGents is, anyone with
email can create an agent service that anyone else can use. New eGent applications
can be downloaded to the field as situations change. Imagine eGents attached
to sensors, actuators, people, equipment, weapons, and locations as pervasive
observers and actors.
Extended email-based agent system (eGents) to
operate wirelessly on Palms and over the CoABS 24x7 Grid and to support
time-constrained publish-and-subscribe messaging consistent with the Joint
Battlespace Infosphere (JBI) architecture.
Ported eGents to DoD domains:
Completed and demonstrated two other agent system
components extended to operate on the CoABS 24x7 Grid.
in the non-combatant evacuation order domain (NEO
TIE), eGents monitor and observe health and location status of non-combatant
in the disaster recovery domain (MIATA TIE), eGents
send field reports (e.g., bridge out, typhoid outbreak). Demoed at CoABS
Workshop in Miami using wireless Palm.
in the coalition domain (CoAX TIE), eGents send
biosurveillance reports (e.g., location of elephants threatened by a planned
UN firestorm in Safari Park Binni Wildlife vignette). Demoed at CoABS Workshop
in Miami and Nashua.
in the small unit operations domain (Y-JBI TIE),
commanders drill down via a map to subscribe to and monitor troop and platoon
status during an attack and fuselets notice patterns (e.g., chemical attack,
soldier wounded). Demoed at CoABS Workshop in Nashua.
AgentGram - wraps Internet resources including
agents with menu-based natural language interfaces. Can operate over the
web so interface is remote from parser and resource. Designed a way
to annotate web pages with grammars, a step towards the semantic web. Demonstrated
AgentGram in the CoAX TIE where it was used for wildlife location queries
at the last minute before a planned firestorm forcing replanning. Potential
impact: Humans can task and query agents using complex but understandable
commands in constrained natural language. This technology can mix pervasively
into all applications, both on the desktop and the Web.
WebTrader - a scalable robust trader component
architected for the global grid. WebTrader locates advertisements, represented
in XML stored on web pages, that have been indexed by industrial strength
search engines. Advertisement types include agents, components, data sources,
search engines, MBNLI grammars, other traders, channels, and other types.
Potential impact: In the spirit of the semantic web, anyone on the Web
can advertise a resource (e.g., agent, service, data source) that anyone
else can discover.
Extend eGents for automated deployment to new platforms,
download eGent apps to the field as situations change, and improve eGents
security - currently eGents requires manual installation limiting fast
fanout of new eGent applications.
Extend CoABS grid to support survivable multi-transport
messaging - leverages our ongoing Cougaar Ultralog survivable, policy-driven
messaging work, which got its start with eGents! This is a step towards
demonstrating how to control system-wide properties (QoS ilities) in agent/grid
Extend Agility components to support FY02 CoAX
and JBI TIEs as required. Update to latest grid release. Package eGents
for public release. Rendezvous selected components with DAML.
Influencing agent standards: Submitted Agent
Communication Language (ACL) in XML and email-based transport to FIPA in
1999, approach later adopted. Continue to co-chair OMG Agent SIG, showcasing
CoABS and DAML technology at OMG; on program committee for OMG Grid Workshop,
Spin off of eGents is basis for OBJS' DARPA
UltraLog MsgLog project to develop policy-driven controls to select among
available message transports to insure survivable, robust message delivery
in chaotic environments.
Three prototypes available:
Working towards productizing AgentGram via spinout
LingoLogic.com. Patent application submitted to USPTO; licensing nearing
eGents - agents communicating via email - should
run on any Java platform, tested on NT machines, connects to garden variety
SMTP/POP3 email servers. Also runs on KVM (J2ME CLDC 1.0 FCS) on the Palm
AgentGram - web-enabled menu-based natural language
tested with IE and Netscape browsers. Backend parser server in C.
WebTrader - web-scale trader that uses industrial
strength search engines to locate trading ads - Java applet runs in IE
and Netscape; server uses Apache web server and Thunderstone's Webinator
2.5 search engine, interfaces to other search engines.