Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)



First Advisor

Deirdre Lillis


The software world is one of great richness and diversity

Even though the concept of software agents date back to the days of AI (Artificial Intelligence) work (1970’s) the word “Agent” is currently in vogue in the computing press and computer science communities.

This thesis presents a review of the ongoing evolution of software agents, places agents in context within today’s software domain, and takes a closer look at the ongoing debate of what really constitutes an '"Agenf\ The numerous dimensions of classification are studied and an opinion of the attributes that an agent should encompass is put forward. Leading on from the classifications existing agent frameworks are compared and contrasted under key functionality characteristics.

A review of agents would not be complete without a study of how agents communicate with each other and with the environment in which they reside. Therefore the syntax and semantics of the ACL (Agent Communication Language) KQML (Knowledge Query and Manipulation) are investigated.

For agent technology to succeed and become widely accepted it has to adhere to certain standards. Current agent standards are inadequate but are slowly being improved by the global software community, which continues to apply and adopt them. These existing standards are inspected and the importance of the adoption of a common international standard is highlighted.

Finally potential areas for application of software agents are examined and two projects that have adopted agent technology as a basis are reviewed.

An implementation was developed to demonstrate the total understanding of agent technology and their application. This implementation consisted of reviewing existing agent development tools, and the development of an agent program in the chosen one.

Conclusions are drawn at the end on where agent technology is heading and the obstacles it faces along the way.

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