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Re: Difference between Agents and (Semantic) Web Services

From: David Martin <martin@AI.SRI.COM>
Date: Wed, 25 Oct 2006 12:43:52 -0700
Message-ID: <453FBE78.5080104@ai.sri.com>
To: Jyotishman Pathak <jyotishman@gmail.com>
CC: "Public-Sws-Ig@W3. Org" <public-sws-ig@w3.org>, semantic-web@w3.org, Jyotishman Pathak <jpathak@cs.iastate.edu>



Jyotishman Pathak wrote:
> Hi,
> 
> Pardon me if this is a very naive question, but someone can please tell 
> me crisply the difference(s) between software agents and (semantic) Web 
> services? I have been trying to find out a comparison between them over 
> the Web and came across the following: 
> http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=873262, which unfortunately did 
> not suffice my query to its entirety.
> 
> I look forward to your inputs.
> 
> Thanks,
> - Jyoti

Hi Jyoti -

I don't think you are likely to find a single crisp delineation that 
everyone would agree too.  Clearly there is a great deal of commonality 
between agents and SWS, in terms of objectives and issues.  In my view 
agents is a broader field, which pretty much subsumes SWS, except of 
course for the connection of SWS with Web Service and Semantic Web 
standards.  SWS has a strong focus on describing the provider, which 
derives from the provider-centric focus of WSDL descriptions.  SWS also 
is focused more on external characterization of behavior and 
interactions, and somewhat less on internal architecture and 
characteristics of individual agents.  Also somewhat less on teamwork / 
collaboration.  Both of course have matchmaking and planning/composition 
as primary concerns.

Some people have claimed that SWS is providing a natural infrastructure 
for agents that hopefully will become widely adopted and possibly 
standardized.  Some people prefer to view agents and services as 
synonymous, in principle.  (That is, anything that's an agent could be 
deployed as a service and any service can be conceived as an agent.) 
Others prefer to think of services as simpler things than agents, but 
they can be used by agents (as clients), and they may be supported by 
agents (as behind-the-scenes part of the provider infrastructure).

There's a series of workshops (WSABE / SOCABE) that has brought together 
these two areas.  You'll probably find some discussion of this 
distinction in some of the papers:

http://www.agentus.com/WSABE2003/
http://agentus.com/WSABE2004/
http://www.ict.swin.edu.au/conferences/socabe2005/
http://www.ict.swin.edu.au/conferences/socabe2006/

Regards,
David Martin
Received on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 19:44:15 UTC

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