Date: 07 Jun 2005

Cooperative Information Agents and communication

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Abstract

Research in Information Systems has switched its focus from data to communication. Communication between different autonomous ISs requires a certain amount of intelligence of each system. The system should be able to know which queries it can/may handle and also be able to negotiate about the information that it will give. In short, these systems evolve into what is called Cooperative Information Agents (CIA). We describe an architecture for these CIAs in which the relations of a CIA with other CIAs are handled on two levels. The messages themselves are handled by the communication manager. The communication manager can also negotiate a contract with other CIAs. The contracts (which may include communication or transaction protocols) between agents are handled by the contract manager of the CIA responsible for the contract. The messages between the agents are modeled using speech act theory which provides for a rich and flexible communication. In addition, we describe a lexicon in which the conceptual meaning of the terms of communication can be defined. Together, these levels provide an integrated and rich semantics for the communication between CIAs. These can be interorganizational, as in EDI applications, or intraorganizational, as in Workflow Management.