Agent Communications: A Closer Look

James Odell

This article is a continuation of Do You Speak Agents?, published on gantthead.com on June 19, 2000.

You know how important communication is among your team--it can make or break everything. Upon closer inspection, the way agents communicate is just as crucial to your project. How they interact, when they interact and where they interact are fundamental to the success of an agent-based system.

Message transportation mechanism
Agent communication can be achieved in two ways:

  • Directly with each other (logical connection) which provides flexibility and freedom, but bypasses control and security.
  • Through the agent platform (physical connection) which resolves control and security problems, but requires logical communications to be physically resolved via the agent base software.

Most agent systems use the second option (Fig. 1), because the agent platform enforces control and security at a system level. With this approach, the look and feel of agents directly addressing other agents can still exist, even though all communications are still processed through the agent platform—even communications to traditional, or legacy, systems.

Figure 1 — Using the agent platform for communication and migration. [1]

 

In agent environments, messages should be schedulable, as well as event driven. They can be sent in synchronous or …


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