Is It an agent, or just a program?: A taxonomy for autonomous agents

  • Stan Franklin
  • Art Graesser
Part II: What is an Agent? — Definitions and Taxonomies
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 1193)


The advent of software agents gave rise to much discussion of just what such an agent is, and of how they differ from programs in general. Here we propose a formal definition of an autonomous agent which clearly distinguishes a software agent from just any program. We also offer the beginnings of a natural kinds taxonomy of autonomous agents, and discuss possibilities for further classification. Finally, we discuss subagents and multiagent systems.


Multiagent System Mobile Agent Natural Kind Autonomous Agent Intelligent Agent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    David Ackley and Michael Littman. Interactions Between Learning and Evolution. In Christopher Langton et al., ed., Artificial Life II. Addison-Wesley 407–509, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rodney A. Brooks. Elephants Don't Play Chess. In Pattie Maes, ed., Designing Autonomous Agents. MIT Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jose C. Brustoloni. Autonomous Agents: Characterization and Requirements. Carnegie Mellon Technical Report CMU-CS-91-204, Carnegie Mellon University 1991.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Vincent G. Dethie. The Magic of Metamorphosis: Nature's Own Sleight of Hand. Smithsonian, (17): 122 ff, 1986.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Oren Etzioni and Daniel Weld. A Softbot-Based Interface to the Internet. Communications of the ACM, (37) 7: 72–79, 1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stan Franklin. Artificial Minds. MIT Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    B. Hayes-Roth. An Architecture for Adaptive Intelligent Systems. Artificial Intelligence: Special Issue on Agents and Interactivity, (72): 329–365, 1995.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    H. Kautz, B. Selman, and M. Coen. Bottom-up Design of Software Agents. Communications of the ACM, (37) 7: 143–146, 1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    F. C. Keil. Concepts, Kinds, and Cognitive Development. MIT Press,1989.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Christopher Langton, ed. Artificial Life. Addison-Wesley, 1989.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Michael Luck and Mark D'Inverno. A Formal Framework for Agency and Autonomy, Proceedings of the International Converence on Multiagent Systems. 254–260, 1995.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Pattie Maes. How to do the right thing. Connection Science. (1):3.1990.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Pattie Maes, ed. Designing Autonomous Agents, MIT Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pattie Maes. Artificial Life Meets Entertainment: Life like Autonomous Agents. Communications of the ACM. (38):11, 108–114, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Marvin Minsky. The Society of Mind. Simon and Schuster. 1985.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    J. P. Müller, M. Pischel, and M. Thiel. Modeling Reactive Behaviour in Vertically Layered Agent Architectures. in Wooldridge and Jennings eds. Intelligent Agents. Springer-Verlag, 261–276, 1995.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Stuart J. Russell and Peter Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. Prentice Hall, 1995.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    D. C. Smith, A. Cypher and J. Spohrer. KidSim: Programming Agents Without a Programming Language. Communications of the ACM, (37): 7, 55–67, 1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hongjun Song, Stan Franklin and Aregahegn Negatu. SUMPY: A Fuzzy Software Agent. in ed. F. C. Harris, Jr., Intelligent Systems: Proceedings of the ISCA 5th International Conference (Reno Nevada, June 1996) International Society for Computers and Their Applications — ISCA, 124–129. 1996.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Michael Woolbridge and Nicholas R. Jennings. Agent Theories, Architectures, and Languages: a Survey. in Wooldridge and Jennings eds. Intelligent Agents. Springer-Verlag, 1–22, 1995.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stan Franklin
    • 1
  • Art Graesser
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Intelligent SystemsUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

Personalised recommendations