Communications of the Association for Information Systems

Article Title

Intelligent Agents


A search on Google for the keywords "intelligent agents' will return more than 330,000 hits; "multi-agent" returns almost double that amount. Over 5,000 citations appear on www.citeseer.com. What is agent technology and what has led to its enormous popularity in both the academic and commercial worlds? Agent-based system technology offers a new paradigm for designing and implementing software systems. The objective of this tutorial is to provide an overview of agents, intelligent agents and multi-agent systems, covering such areas as: 1. what an agent is, its origins and what it does, 2. how intelligence is defined for and differentiates an intelligent agent from an agent, 3. how multi-agent systems coordinate agents with competing goals to achieve a meaningful result, and 4. how an agent differs from an object of a class or an expert system. Examples are presented of academic and commercial applications that employ agent technology. The potential pitfalls of agent development and agent usage are discussed.