Software Agent Mobility

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Henry Hexmoor
Marcin Paprzycki
Niranjan Suri

Abstract

This issue is the first of a two issue collection of selected papers from the annual AIMS (Agents, Interactions, Mobility, and Systems) conference track spanning 2002-2006. AIMS began in 2002 as part of the ACM SAC (Symposium on Applied Computing) and continued for five years. The first conference was held in Madrid, Spain. Subsequent conferences were held in Melbourne (Florida, USA), Nicosia, Cyprus, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Dijon, France. The track was primarily created to provide a venue for applied topics in software agents but became the primary venue for papers on mobile agents, as the IEEE conference on Mobile Agents was discontinued beyond 2002. Hence, the initial collection of six papers from the AIMS track focuses exclusively on topics related to mobile agents.

In the first paper, Binder and Roth examine the security capabilities of the Java platform with respect to supporting mobile agents. The paper raises the question as to whether Java is an appropriate language and has the necessary security mechanisms to safely support mobile agents. After highlighting the missing capabilities, the paper concludes by pointing to ongoing work that fortify shortcomings in Java.

The second paper, by Bettini, Nicola, and Loreti, describes their X-KLAIM programming language that is designed to simplify the task of writing mobile agents as well as distributed applications in general. X-KLAIM builds on the concept of tuple spaces as introduced by the Linda programming language. The paper presents examples of distributed applications and mobile agents that are written in the X-CLAIM language.

The third paper, by Quitadamo, Leonardi, and Cabri, describe an approach to provide strong mobility for agents. Strong mobility implies that the execution state of the treads of the agent are preserved, thereby allowing the agent to continue execution after reaching the destination node. Very few mobile agent systems are capable of supporting strong migration. Their approach takes advantage of a modified Jikes RVM (Research VM) from IBM and supports mobile agents written in the Aglets programming language.

In the fourth paper, Moreau addresses the problem of routing messages to agents that are roaming a network. His approach begins with a fault-tolerant directory service that is used to keep track of agent locations and messages being sent. Nodes use forwarding pointers when agents move and the system provides redundancy in order to handle failure of nodes.

The fifth paper, by Overeinder, de Groot, Wijngaards, and Brazier addresses the problem of agent migration across heterogeneous platforms. Their approach aims to provide cross-platform compatibility via authoring the mobile agent in a meta-language that provides a blueprint for the agent's behavior. Each platform then contains an agent factory that generates the code for the agent based on the blueprint.

Finally, in the sixth paper, Roth, Peters, and Pinsdorf describe an application of mobile agents to search for multimedia by content-matching. Instead of transmitting large multimedia objects to clients, a distributed search engine is used that embeds the features of interest into a mobile agent that is dispatched to the sources of the images. Content matching is then performed on the provider nodes, thereby reducing the need to unnecessarily transmit large amounts of data over the network.

Finally, we would like to express our gratitude to everyone who worked with us in the Program Committee of the AIMS Workshop. THANK YOU!

Henry Hexmoor,
Marcin Paprzycki,
Niranjan Suri.

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Section
Introduction to the Special Issue