[an error occurred while processing this directive] Software Agents: An Overview

Software Agents: An Overview

Hyacinth S. Nwana

Intelligent Systems Research
Advanced Applications & Technology Department
BT Laboratories, Martlesham Heath
Ipswich, Suffolk, IP5 7RE, U.K.
e-mail: hyacinth@info.bt.co.uk
Tel: (+44 1 473) 605457
fax: (+44 1 473) 642459

Knowledge Engineering Review, Vol. 11, No 3, pp.1-40, Sept 1996. © Cambridge University Press, 1996


Agent software is a rapidly developing area of research. However, the overuse of the word ëagentí has tended to mask the fact that, in reality, there is a truly heterogeneous body of research being carried out under this banner. This overview paper presents a typology of agents. Next, it places agents in context, defines them and then goes on, inter alia, to overview critically the rationales, hypotheses, goals, challenges and state-of-the-art demonstrators of the various agent types in our typology. Hence, it attempts to make explicit much of what is usually implicit in the agents literature. It also proceeds to overview some other general issues which pertain to all the types of agents in the typology. This paper largely reviews software agents, and it also contains some strong opinions that are not necessarily widely accepted by the agent community.