Phone Discussion with Marshall Brinn

Frank Manola
Object Services and Consulting
March 2, 1999

On March 2, 1999, I had a 45-minute phone discussion with Marshall Brinn, BBN/GTE, ALPINE Technical Director, on CoABS-ALP technology interchange.  I had previously exchanged emails with him introducing the CoABS-ALP technology interchange activity, and sending him the URL of Craig Thompson's list of ALP-CoABS common architectural issues.  He asked about the specific goals of the interchange activity (i.e., were we after TIES and actual technology development, white papers, or what).  I explained what I understood the goals of the program were, and he seemed pleased that the goals involved actual technology development.

Marshall described ALP's architecture as having been developed relatively independently of mainstream agent work.  He felt that addressing agent technology in a standard way, and addressing "classic" agent problems, were two elements that ALP was potentially missing.  He welcomed the idea of CoABS looking at the way ALP does things, and making suggestions for extensions/changes, since in many cases ALP was not married to a particular way of doing things.

Marshall also had some initial suggestions for specific issues in ALP that he'd be interested in seeing CoABS help with:

I indicated that CoABS had work that was potentially relevant to all these issues.  I also noted that there were additional aspects of these issues that could be considered as well.  For example: I also mentioned that CoABS work on Agent Communication Languages might be relevant to extending ALP's directive vocabulary.

Marshall then asked what ALP could do for CoABS, and I gave him the general list I'd included in the Design Document, namely:

  • CoABS should look at the cluster model--the ability to extend/specialize agents with plugins
  • CoABS should look at ALP's penalty function cost model
  • access/experience with realistic plan representations, external systems, planning process
  • possibly provide a testbed for experiments with CoABS technology using more realistic scenarios and scales
  • provide insights on Grid requirements
  • Marshall expressed some concern about the amount of additional work that might be involved in this activity, since no one there had much spare time.  I indicated that I would try to minimize that by working up ideas as much as possible for them to review, rather than having them spend too much effort on developing the ideas themselves.  Marshall suggested that we continue interacting via phone calls and email as long as this remained productive, and arrange face-to-face meetings when they became strictly necessary (easy to arrange, since our offices are relatively close).

    Later that same day, I sent Marshall a list of technical questions on ALP that I had compiled while reading their documentation, along with the URL to the initial draft of our ALP-CoABS Technology Integration Design Document (since Jim Hendler had sent the URL to Brian Kettler).