The NZDIS project: An agent-based distributed information systems architecture
Purvis, Martin; Cranefield, Stephen; Bush, Geoff; Carter, Dan; McKinlay, Bryce; Nowostawski, Mariusz; Ward, Roy
This paper describes an architecture for building distributed information systems from existing information resources, based on distributed object and software agent technologies. This architecture is being developed as part of the New Zealand Distributed Information Systems (NZDIS) project. An agent-based architecture is used: information sources are encapsulated as information agents that accept messages in an agent communication language (the FIPA ACL). A user agent assists users to browse ontologies appropriate to their domain of interest and to construct queries based on terms from one or more ontologies. One or more query processing agents are then responsible for discovering (from a resource broker agent) which data source agents are relevant to the query, decomposing the query into subqueries suitable for those agents (including the translation of the query into the specific ontologies implemented by those agents), executing the subqueries and translating and combining the subquery results into the desired result set. Novel features of this system include the use of standards from the object-oriented community such as the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) (as a communications infrastructure), the Unified Modeling Language (used as an ontology representation language), the Object Data Management Group's Object Query Language (used for queries) and the Object Management Group's Meta Object Facility (used as the basis for an ontology repository agent). Query results need not be returned within an ACL message, but may instead be represented by a CORBA object reference which may be used to obtain the result set.
Publisher: University of Otago
Series number: 99/17
Research Type: Discussion Paper