Object Services and Consulting, Inc.

  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 bold

Project URL



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.

Recent Accomplishments

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.

Current Plan

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 architectures.

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.

Technology Transition

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, July 2001.

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 completion.