Saturday, March 31, 2012

Two kinds of agent: data source agents and normal agents

Stage 0 my my new Agent Server supports two distinct kinds of agent:
  • Data Source Agents – read web resources (HTML pages, XML files, text files, RSS feeds, etc.) on a periodic basis and extract useful information and output it in a form suitable for consumption by other agents. A single data source agent can in fact access multiple web resources on different time scales and aggregate the extracted information.
  • Normal Agents – consume the output of other agents, both data source agents and other normal agents, and in turn generate their own output. No timers are needed since activation of agents is automatic based on their dependency graphs.
Actually, there is not real distinction between these "types" of agent, other than simply whether the agent happens to use any timers. In fact, you can have hybrid agents that consume some web resources on a periodic basis using timers and output from other agents as it becomes available.

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