Intelligent agents provide the key to successful business computing
'Intelligent agents' have become one of the most talked about developments in IT in recent years and are set to have a dramatic impact on the face of modern business computing. This month, speakers from across Europe will be meeting in London to discuss the latest commercial and technological developments in this area at a conference organised by Dr Michael Luck of the University of Southampton, who is one of Europe's leading researchers in the field.
"These so-called "agents" are essentially autonomous software components that interact with other agents to achieve certain tasks, while responding dynamically to changes in their surroundings," says Dr Luck. "In the world of the Internet and e-business, for example, agents will have many uses and an increasing number of companies are beginning to sit up and take notice.
"At present, agents are a key area where Europe is leading the world, and for the forseeable future at least, that looks set to continue."
The aim of the conference is to explain the potential that agents can offer and let companies know how they can take advantage of existing European expertise in this area.
Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic rise in the adoption of agent-based computing for developing complex software systems, says Dr Luck. "It offers a more natural and effective means of dealing with the current situation of open and dynamic environments in which software components must cope with continually changing circumstances."
The European Commission has long recognised the potential of agent technology. Through its network of excellence for agent-based computing, AgentLink, of which Dr Luck is Director, the EC has sought to promote and exploit the leading role of European researchers and technology companies in this area.
"Our role is to support technology transfer from academic research departments to the increasing number of commercial organisations that are moving into the area," explains Dr Luck. "We also involve industrialists so that their needs can be addressed through academic research. The key to continued success for the European software industry is reinforcing the academic-industry link."
Based at the University of Southampton, which is the co-ordinating centre for the AgentLink network, Dr Luck has been awarded over half a million pounds over three years to promote agent-based computing and sustain Europe's competitive position in comparison with the US.
The AgentLink Agent Technology Conference: Agents for Commercial Applications will be held at the Institute of Materials in London on 21 January 2002. Details are available at www.agentlink.org/agents-london
Notes for editors
The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.