Issues in Agent Communication: An Introduction

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Abstract

Agent technology is an exciting and important new way to create complex soft- ware systems. Agents blend many of the traditional properties of AI programs – knowledge-level reasoning, flexibility, pro-activeness, goal-directedness, and so forth – with insights gained from distributed software engineering, machine learning, negotiation and teamwork theory, and the social sciences. An important part of the agent approach is the principle that agents (like humans) can function more effectively in groups that are characterized by cooperation and division of labor. Agent programs are designed to autonomously collaborate with each other in order to satisfy both their internal goals and the shared external demands generated by virtue of their participation in agent societies. This type of collaboration depends on a sophisticated system of interagent communication. The assumption that interagent communication is best handled through the explicit use of an agent communication language (ACL) underlies each of the papers in this collection. In this introduction, we will supply a brief background and introduction to the main topics in agent communication.