|Developing Intelligent Agents for Distributed Systems|
|author||Michael Knapik and Jay Johnson|
|summary||This is a high level overview of intelligent agents that is suitable for someone getting started in the field.|
The ScenarioKnapik and Johnson attempt to provide an overview on the field of intelligent agents. They claim to cover "virtually all aspects of intelligent agent technology." They do cover a wide variety of topics such as object orientation in at least enough detail to get started. Other areas such as artificial intelligence are just too broad for them to discuss at any useful level.
What's Bad?The main problem that I had with this book was that it tried to take on too much. While trying to cover every aspect involved in developing agents, it ends up covering none of them very well. Instead of detailed coverage of any subject, we get a brief introduction to a wide spread of subjects and pointers for further information.
Another thing that I found annoying is the authors' exuberance for Smalltalk and Java and their downplaying the power of C++. They seem to be under the impression that C++ is dead and obsolete. They also completely fail to mention Perl. This is curious considering the power of Perl for these sorts of applications. I suppose they don't like it because they are trying to develop a pure object oriented system but it is by far the easiest way to rip apart HTML documents. While Java may be the language of the future, I think C++ with maybe some Perl tools provides the best platform for agent development today.
What's Good?The huge range of topics covered in this book is both a strength and a weakness. If you want to get a very general overview of many of these areas, it would be much cheaper to buy and read this book than a dozen books covering them in detail. This book would probably be good to give a manager or non-programmer when trying to explain what an agent is and what technologies are used to develop them.
In addition, the discussion of agent architectures is somewhat interesting and useful. I haven't seen many books cover this stuff very well. Several different organizational possibilities are presented with advantages and disadvantages. I found some of this to be rather shallow and commonsensical but I suppose it would be useful to someone with no knowledge of agents.
So What's In It For Me?If you are looking for a good overview of a wide range of fields involved in the development of intelligent agents, this book may be for you. It introduces artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, object orientation, distributed computing, agent architecture, and several programming languages. Unfortunately, to actually start writing agents, you will need to read separate books on most of these topics. It does give you a starting place and some ideas about the approaches that others are trying. If you are an experienced programmer looking to start into agents, you will need to skip over large sections (like the introduction to object oriented programming) to keep from being bored. The sections on agent architecture are the best and are probably worth reading if you are trying to get into the field. Overall though, I found this book fairly disappointing. In the authors' defense, this is a large subject that would be difficult to cover with the wide scope that they are attempting. I think it is better left to books specializing on more manageable sub-areas.
Purchase this book over at Computer Literacy, and help Slashdot out.
Table of Contents
- From Artificial Intelligence Comes Intelligent Agents
- Converging Technologies that Facilitate and Enable Agents
- Agent-Enabling Infrastructures
- Agent Architectures
- Agent Design Considerations
- Developing Intelligent Agents Now
- Agent Applications
- Agent Futures