Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Where now for agent-based computing?


What is the future direction for agent-based systems, one of the most important software R&D areas in recent years? Drawing from a body of some 200 industry and academic organisations, a European project has released a strategic roadmap that hopes to guide evolution of the field over the next decade.

AgentLink III, as its name suggests, was the third project in the series and author of the roadmap. Funded by the IST programme, it addressed the current state-of-the-art and postulated likely future directions for agent-based technologies, an activity seen as essential to help industry target its investment and to inform policy-makers on areas of particular importance.

In essence, an agent is an autonomous software system: a system that can decide for itself what it needs to do. Underpinning many aspects of broader information technology, some of the most compelling developments in IT – the semantic Web, ambient intelligence, the Grid, autonomic systems – require agent technologies or something similar for their realisation.

Roadmap coordinator Michael Luck of Southampton University in the UK gave some examples of how agent-based computing has already helped some project partners in their business. “Daimler-Chrysler for example implemented an agent-based system on one factory floor to allow individual workpieces to be directed dynamically around the production area. The intention was to implement flexible manufacturing to meet rapidly changing operations targets. The result was a 10 per increase in productivity.”

Another example, he says, is that of a shipping company that needed to improve its management of shipping routes for oil tankers. “By modelling each tanker as an agent, the company was able to develop much better simulations of the operating environment, helping them to react more immediately to changing circumstances.”

How rapidly business adopts agent technologies from this point depends on how fast and how well such technologies can be linked to existing and proven software. Luck believes that the real challenges to further take-up are cultural or conceptual. “Very often, the difficulty in implementation is the need for a new way of thinking, a re-look at the way people do things.”

He warns, however, of dangers in the growing ubiquity of agent-based computing. Now that such applications are spreading throughout industry, he believes, we are at risk of losing focus as agent-based applications become embedded into ever-larger, and sometimes proprietary, systems.

Luck stresses the importance of remembering that all of these larger technologies still use software agents. “As agent-based systems become ‘sucked up’ into larger infrastructures, they will no longer be recognised as agent-based technologies. The risk is that we lose the ability to think laterally as ever-larger systems narrow the potential for development.”

“The question is whether in ten years time we’ll still be using the term ‘agents’? I’m certain that we will be using agent-based technologies, even if by then they go by another name.”

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>