Document title:

Agent Description Ontology Work Plan

Document number:


Document source:

(see author below)

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Date of this status:


Change history:


Initial draft


FAB comments (see end); See f-wp-000010


                                                           Hironobu Kitajima



This document proposes  a work plan with the aim of specifying ontologies to explicitly and formally describe agent services, agent capabilities, and agent needs.  That is expected to enable more accurate and efficient interoperation between FIPA agents. Furthermore, that is the absolute pre-requisite to enable the realization of a service commonly known as content-based routing and widely used within the KQML community.


Almost every application domains may benefit from these specifications, in particular those that involve loosely coupled processes, like database integration, electronic commerce, CALS tools etc.


Problem Statement:

When we scrutinize human communication, the realization of efficient interoperation is very difficult for two persons without the knowledge of the counterpart, even if they speak the same language. Analogously, if agents are deprived of the capability to communicate what they are and what they can do, the agents need to go through a very inefficient process of building the models of other agents from indirect evidence.


An agent requires some ontologies to build models of other agents within itself. The FIPA AMS and DF are already using this kind of ontology to describe agents under their management. However, all of the existing ontologies are defined using natural language and informal tables. Such ontologies should be formalized in order to realize accurate interoperation between agents. So far, FIPA supposes the a-priori knowledge about the description of each service registered with the DF; instead, this work plan aims to allow an explicit description of each service that can be managed and reasoned about by software agents.


Moreover, the current agent management ontology specified in [FIPA00023] is too weak to realize content-based routing, which is an essential service for a group of systems that already exists in agent society. This weakness limits the interoperability of FIPA-compliant agents and their application areas to some extent.


Content-based routing is a kind of  intelligent routing service based on the content of the inter-agent communication message.  For instance, a KQML-speaking agent can find out which agent handles or takes interest in the message using message patterns previously sent by ‘advertise’ KQML messages from other agents and can forward it to the destination agents.  As for FIPA agents, if there exist an ontology supporting this kind of routing, they can enjoy the same service with the help of brokering-related protocols.



Agent description ontology will make it possible for agents to communicate their attributes, capabilities and needs. With this ontology, an agent can build models of other agents accurately and efficiently through direct messaging or some mediation/facilitation services and content-based  routing mechanism can be realized also.


Some proven existing technologies can be used for this work plan, such as OKBC, Ontolingua, frame theory, and 1st order languages.


Specifications Generated:

We suppose that the following items need to be specified:

·         An ontology to describe FIPA agent’s attributes, capabilities and needs,

·         An ontology to realize the content-based routing.


Plan for Work:

We propose initiating the standardization process for such ontologies at the Baltimore meeting in 2000/07.



          A reasonable estimate of the required output is 4 meetings after the starting date.


Future Work:

The work might be extended to allow the representation of plans of actions including communicative acts.



·         [FIPA00005] FIPA Agent Management Support for Mobility Specification

·         [FIPA00023] FIPA Agent Management Specification

·         [f-wp-00004] Agent Configuration Management Work Plan

·         [f-wp-00005] Domains and Policy Work Plan



·         Fabio Bellifemine[1], CSELT

·         Bernard Burg, Motorola

·         Hironobu Kitajima, Fujitsu


FAB Comments:

This work plan has been approved and has been assigned to the Agreements Management TC.

[1] This work plan was strongly inspired by the proposal document (Nice) of University of Parma and CSELT, entitled "An ontology description language for FIPA agent systems".