Introduction Agent technology has attracted the attention of academia in many domains in the past decade. It is probably due to the fact that computer systems have been becoming complicated with distribution and openness characteristics. Agent-based systems, or multi-agent systems in general, are contemporary paradigm for software development. Ashri et al. claimed that "the underlying concept of decentralized, autonomous control expressed through agents that are able to communicate and cooperate to achieve goals is especially appealing for applications in heterogeneous and dynamic computing environments." Jennings refers agent-oriented software development approach to as "decomposing the problem into multiple, autonomous components that can act and interact in flexible ways to achieve their set objectives." Jennings also advocates that agent-oriented software development approach offers the following advantages: Decompose a complex problem effectively so that the problem space can be divided into smaller sub-problem space; A natural way of modelling such systems because they are, most often, decentralized in nature; and Interaction among agents is appropriate for modelling the dependencies that exist in complex systems. In the instrumentation and measurement domain, application of agent technology is still in its infancy. Dobrowiecki et al. discussed how measuring instruments are related to artificial intelligence, in particular agent technology. They presented a general idea of agent-based system which is "to order a service from an agent and to delegate any responsibility of direct control, rather than to monitor closely the progress of the problem solving". Amigoni et al. claimed that agent techniques have evolved and improved over the years such that "impacts on measurement systems whose nature and conceptual interpretation have radically changed." Real-life applications of agent technology in this domain are not well documented. It is not easy to find a successful application of agent-based instrumentation and measuring system, although PC-based distributed instrumentation and measuring systems are not uncommon. In fact, they are usually configured as client-server systems. In this article, two real-life agent-oriented applications which are embedded measuring systems will be reviewed. In fact, the two cases are commercial products and have already been mass produced. The reasons why such distributed approach is used will be revealed. In fact, one of them is limited by the outlook design so that two individual functional units (which are agents) have to be built for each final product. On the other hand, the other one is decomposed into different independent units to simplify the software development and product design, which is a collaborative work by three independent companies. Main issues, including difficulties, that came across during the course of development of the two cases with respect to agent-oriented design will be addressed in this article.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Computer Science (all)