UMIST, Department of Computation

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UMIST, Department of Computation PO Box 88 Manchester M60 1QD

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The work in agent-based system at UMIST follows three interlinked directions:

(a) agents as enabling technology for dynamic organisations;
(b) methods and techniques for developing agent-based systems; and
(c) technologies underpinning artificial intelligence and agents.

Agents as Enabling Technology for Dynamic Organisations

Five members of staff and 2 PhD students work directly in this area.

UMIST is a Principal Contractor for the 2mln euro Framework 6 European
project CrossWork. CrossWork will extend the work of CrossFlow in
direction of using intelligent agents for both designing and enacting
flexible cross-organisational workflows. It was ranked 2nd out of 116
STREP proposals in its key-action.

We participate in MaBE (, a 3mln euro Framework V
project creating agent-based middleware to support flexible business
operation [1,2]. UMIST is focused on agent infrastructures and semantic
interoperability issues [3], we are currently developing ontology
negotiation protocols and enhancing ontology management facilities
provided in JADE, the agent-building toolkit on which MaBE is based.

Agents are seen as a core enabling technology on the
Software-as-a-Service project aiming to replicate the agility of
service-based organisations in software using service procurement and
composition as a core paradigm for software creation. The project
involves 8 academics and similar number of PhD students from three
Universities (UMIST, Durham and Keele). The latest result of this
project is a set of negotiation protocols for effective service
procurement, using collaboration between the service requester agents
[4], and their application to the domain of travel services
procurement from mobile phones [18].

UMIST is an active member of Agentcities and openNet projects. We
chaired the Working Group on Business Process Infrastructure, which
had some 50 members, and for the first 12 months of its existence
produced recommended specification of a contract to be used in dynamic
service composition. This involved organising two workshops on
Business Process Infrastructures (ID2@Lisbon 2001 and ID3@Barcelona
2002). UMIST hosts the Manchester node of Agentcities/openNet. We
ran an Agentcities.Net deployment project on Flexible Contracting for
Dynamic Management of Supply Chains, where we developed a specialised
version of the Iterated Contract Net protocol. We also participated in
two other deployment projects, one of which was selected to represent
Agenctities.NET and the EC show in Milan 2003.

A recent addition to our team is a Research Fellow who joins us from a
successfully completed European Project in multi-agent systems.
COGents was a 'proof of concept' project funded by the European
Community through the Information Society Technologies Programme
(IST), under contract IST-2001-34431. The project resulted in a FIPA
compliant (see agent based framework to support the
dynamic and opportunistic interoperability of distributed software
components, making use of web repositories. The application context
was computer aided process engineering, including simulation,
modelling and design, see for example, [5-7], but the framework is
context independent. Further details can be found at

We have also created a two-level agent-driven framework for flexible
and adaptable work coordination [8], and SEPNA [9], a system for soft
multi-attribute negotiation when composing distributed workflows.
These are feeding into our contributions to the CrossWork project.

Methods and Techniques for Developing Agent-based Systems

Our collaboration with BT Research Labs, Ipswich (now BT Exact
Technologies) focused on developing agent systems, conducted within
two funded activities (Short-Term Fellowship and a funded PhD
project). The work produced RAMASD [10-13], a method for
semi-automatic design of multi-agent systems using role algebra and
synthesis, and SAMBA [14], a mediator-centred architecture for
building agent systems supporting distributed teamwork. SAMBA focused
on user participation in controlling the operation of agent systems,
an idea related to earlier work on user-enhanceable coordination
mechanisms [15].

Each of the two projects resulted in a patent application by BT, and
RAMASD was then implemented as an enhancement of the BT agent
development toolkit Zeus.

The PhD project also produced a framework to evaluate the design
complexity involved in MAS development methods [16], which is to undergo
further development.

A new PhD project is currenly exploring the use of design theories and
agent designers to support the semi-automatic design of agent-based
systems focused on network services. This is complemented by the work
of another PhD student on design using architectural styles, and a
staff-driven project on the role of agents in the Service-Oriented
Architecture [17].

The latest result in the area is a preliminary version of a new method
for designing agent-based workflow systems, based on Gero's
theoretical design framework. This has been developed within the
CrossWork project described above, and has been submitted to

Technologies Underpinning Artificial Intelligence and Agents

Agent research at UMIST is conducted in the context of numerous
activities in artificial intelligence, information systems and related

For example, UMIST is leading the 1mln pounds National Centre for Text
Mining, also including the Victoria University of Manchester, the
University of Liverpool, and the University of Salford, and
collaborating with the University of California Berkeley, the
University of Geneva, the San Diego Supercomputing Centre, and the
University of Tokyo.

Another relevant research activity is AI Planning. We participated in
PLANET, the EC Network of Excellence in AI Planning, and were involved
in preparing the EU Roadmap of Workflow Planning within the Workflow

We also have a long-standing interest in planning theory and epistemic
logic, largely applied to linguistic actions, since these involve
reasoning about the other person's goals, about what they know, and
about the information that is presumed to be shared by the various
parties [19-21]. This links with the general thread of research on
systems that can understand natural language using higher-order

Academics in the department also research automatic terminology
extraction (e.g. [22]), acquisition, classification and management,
computer vision (e.g. [23]), intelligent decision support tools
(e.g. [24]), neural networks and evolutionary computing (genetic
algorithms) (e.g. [25,26]). Research in the information systems area
in our Department includes service-based software (e.g. [27], role
modelling and pattern-based design (e.g. [10,17,28]%2), quality of
services, etc.


Karageorgos, A. and Mehandjiev, N. and Hämmerle, A. and Weichhart, G. (2003) Agent-based optimisation of logistics and production planning. Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, 16. pp. 335-348.

Mikhailov, L. and Singh, M.G. (2003) Fuzzy analytic network process and its application to the development of Decision Support Systems. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man and Cybernetics, 33 (1). pp. 33-41.

Fernandez, G. and Zhao, L. and Wijiegunartne, I. (2003) Patterns for federation architecture. Journal of Object Technology, 2 (3). pp. 135-149.

Fernandez, G. and Zhao, L. and Wijiegunartne, I. (2003) Patterns for federation architecture. Journal of Object Technology, 2 (3). pp. 135-149.

Karageorgos, A. and Thompson, S. and Mehandjiev, N. (2002) Agent-based system design for B2B electronic commerce. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Special Issue on Agent Technologies for B2B Electronic Commerce, 7 (1). pp. 59-90.

Karageorgos, A. and Mehandjiev, N. and Thompson, S. (2002) Designing Agent Organisations Using Role Models. Knowledge Engineering Review, Special Issue on Coordination and Knowledge Engineering, 17 (4).

Neville, R. and Stonham, J. and Glover, R. (2000) Partially pre-calculated weights for the back propogation learning regime and high accuracy function mapping using continous input RAM based sigma-pi nets. Neural Networks: International Neural Networks Journal, 13 (1). pp. 91-110. ISSN 0893-6080

Mehandjiev, N. and Odgers, B. (1999) SAMBA: Agent-supported visual interactive control for distributed team building and empowerment. BT Technology Journal, 17 (4).

Lekova, A. and Mikhailov, L. and Nabout, A. (1998) A redundant fuzzy rules exclusion by genetic algorithm. Fuzzy Sets and Systems, 100. pp. 235-243. ISSN 0165-0114

Boot, J.C. and Naftel, A. and Ramli, A.R.B. (1992) Bodymap: An image processing system for the measurement of body surface profiles encountered in skin expansion surgery. International Journal of Biomedical Computing, 31. pp. 189-204.

Book Section

Zhao, L. and Mehandjiev, N. and Macaulay, L. (2004) Agent Roles and patterns for supporting Dynamic behavior of Web Service Applications. In: Proceedings of AAMAS04 Workshop on Web Services and Agent-Based Engineering (WSABE). .

Abdoessalam, A.M. and Mehandjiev, N. (2004) Collaborative Negotiation in Web Service Procurement. In: Proceedings of WETICE 2004, International Workshop on Agent-based computing for enterprise collaboration. IEEE CS Press, Modena, Italy.

Mehandjiev, N. and Abdoessalam, A.M. (2004) Cooperative Booking of Time-Dependent Travel Services. In: Proceedings of AAMAS04 Workshop on Agents for Ubiquitous Computing (UbiAgents). , New York, USA.

Stalker, I.D. and Fraga, E.S. (2004) Enhancing Automated Process Design with Cognitive Agents, Distributed Software Components and Web Repositories. In: Proceedings of Adaptive Computing in Design and Manufacture (ACDM). , Bristol, UK.

Shaikh, S. and Mehandjiev, N. (2004) Multi-attribute Negotiation in E-Business Process Composition. In: Proceedings of WETICE 2004, International Workshop on Distributed and Mobile Collaboration. IEEE CS Press, Modena, Italy.

Carpenter, M. and Gledson, A. and Mehandjiev, N. (2004) Support for Dynamic Ontologies in Open Business Systems. In: Proceedings of the AAMAS04 Agent-Oriented Information Systems Workshop. .

Reitbauer, A. and Battino, A. and Saint Germain, B. and Karageorgos, A. and Mehandjiev, N. and Valckenaers, P. (2004) The MaBE Middleware. In: Proceedings of BASYS04: 6th IFIP International Conference on Information Technology for Balanced Automation Systems in Manufacturing and Services. , Vienna, Austria.

Karageorgos, A. and Mehandjiev, N. (2003) A Design Complexity Evaluation Framework for Agent-Based System Engineering Methods. In: Engineering Societies in the Agents World IV, Proceedings of 4th International Workshop. Lecture Notes in Computer Science LNCS:LNAI, 3071. Springer-Verlag, London, UK. ISBN 3-540-22231-6

Guessoum, Z. and Nadjemi, O. and Braunschweig, B. and Roux, P. and Yang, A. and Fraga, E.S. and Stalker, I.D. and Pinol, D. and Serra, M. and Paen, D. (2003) Agent Based Computer Aided Process Design. In: Proceedings of Intelligent Computing in the Petroleum Industry (ICPI) Workshop of International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI). , Acapulco.

Mehandjiev, N. and Karageorgos, A. and Tsang, G. (2003) Designing Coordination Systems for Distributed Teamwork. In: Proceedings of WETICE 2003, International Workshop on Distributed and Mobile Collaboration. IEEE CS Press, Linz.

Ramsay, A. and Field, D.G. (2003) Sarcasm, deception and stating the obvious: planning dialogue without speech acts. In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Workshop on Computational Semantics (IWCS-5). , Univ of Tilburg.

Karageorgos, A. and Thompson, S. and Mehandjiev, N. (2003) Specifying Reuse Concerns in Agent System Design Using a Role Algebra. In: Agent Technologies, Infrastructures, Tools, and Applications for e-Services. ecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence LNAI, 2592. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-00742-3

Stalker, I.D. and Fraga, E.S. and von Wedel, L. and Yang, A. (2003) Using Design Prototypes to Build an Ontology for Automated Process Design. In: Proceedings of European Symposium on Computer Aided Process Engineering 13 (ESCAPE-13). , Lappeenranta, Finland.

Bennett, K.H. and Gold, N.E. and Munro, M. and Xu, J. and Layzell, P.J. and Budgen, D. and Brereton, O.P. and Mehandjiev, N. (2002) Prototype Implementations of an Architectural Model for Service-Based Flexible Software. In: Proc. Thirty-Fifth Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-35). IEEE CS Press, pp. 76-76. ISBN 0-7695-1435-9

Karageorgos, A. and Thompson, S. and Mehandjiev, N. (2002) Semi-Automatic Design of Agent Organisations. In: Proceedings of ACM Symposium in Applied Computing, Special Track on Coordination Models, Languages and Applications. ACM Press, Madrid, Spain, pp. 306-313.

Ramsay, A. (2000) Speech Act Theory and Epistemic Planning. In: Abduction, Beliefs and Context in Dialogue: Studies in Computational Pragmatics. John Benjamins.

Mehandjiev, N. and Bottaci, L. and Phillips, R. (1996) User control over coordination mechanisms in office information systems. In: Cooperative Knowledge Processing: The Key Technology for Intelligent Organizations. Springer-Verlag, London, UK.

Conference or Workshop Item

Paice, C.D. and Black, W. (2003) A three-pronged approach to the extraction of key terms and semantic roles. In: RANLP - 2003 (Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing), 10-12 Sep 2003, Borovets, Bulgaria.

Ramsay, A. (1989) Epistemic Reasoning without Possible Worlds. In: Primo Congresso della Assoc. Italiana per l'Intelligenza Artificiale, IRST, Trento.


[Project] Fessl, Kurt and Weichhart, Georg and Mehandjiev, Nik and Stalker, Iain and Carpenter, Martin (2006) CrossWork: Cross-organisational Business Formation and Enactment.

[Project] Fessl, Kurt and Haemmerle, Alexander and Reitbauer, Alois and Ankerl, Martin and Weichhart, Georg (2005) MaBE: Multi-agent Business Environment.

This list was generated on Mon Sep 10 16:39:24 BST 2007.


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