AgentLink III is proposed as a follow-on to AgentLink II, the IST-funded Network of Excellence for agent-based systems established in August 2000. Agent-based systems are one of the most vibrant and important areas of research and development to have emerged in information technology in the 1990s, and underpin many aspects of the broader IST FP6.
Many observers believe that agents represent the most important new paradigm for software development since object-orientation. An agent is a computer system that is capable of flexible autonomous action in dynamic, unpredictable, typically multi-agent domains. Some application domains where agent technologies will play a crucial role include: Ambient Intelligence, the seamless delivery of ubiquitous computing, continuous communications and intelligent user interfaces to consumer and industrial devices; Grid Computing, where multi-agent system approaches will enable efficient use of the resources of high-performance computing infrastructure in science, engineering, medical and commercial applications; Electronic Business, where agent-based approaches are already supporting the automation and semi-automation of information-gathering activities and purchase transactions over the Internet; the Semantic Web, where agents are needed both to provide services, and to make best use of the resources available; Bioinformatics, where intelligent agents may support the coherent exploitation of the data revolution occurring in biology; and others including monitoring and control, resource management, and space, military and manufacturing applications, for example.
AgentLink III will act as a unifying focus for agent-based activities in these different domains. As with AgentLink and AgentLink II, the long-term goal of AgentLink III is to put Europe at the leading edge of international competitiveness in this increasingly important area.
The E-NEXT Network of Excellence targets a key area of Information Society Technologies, namely computer networking. Framework Programme 6 aims to develop the technological basis and the people-skills necessary to deliver the promise of the information revolution - new audio-visual services and products, electronic delivery of business, health, education, entertainment, government, science and so on - and this will fundamentally impact every aspect of life and work. The delivery of all of these e-endeavours depends entirely on computer networks.
E-NEXT aims to integrate a critical mass of expertise and to re-structure research practice such that Europe can take a lead in computer networking and act as a world force in this area. The main objectives of this NoE will be: the development of a virtual research centre to integrate the world-class research of the members and to stimulate the exchange of personnel, the education and training of personnel inside and outside the network, the dissemination of research results and in general the spreading of excellence, and the stimulation of innovation by appropriate technology transfer into existing and new companies, both large and small.
E-NEXT will achieve these objectives through its management structure consisting of network and country coordination committees, and six workpackages: network coordination, joint research, integration and training, distributed work environment, spreading excellence, and dissemination. E-NEXT is targeted at line 3.1.8 in the First Call for proposals, Networked Audio-Visual Systems and HomePlatforms. This line aims to 'support the innovation and development of technologies for end-to-end interoperable audio-visual networks, services and applications'. E-NEXT will make a major contribution to these aims, as well as potentially contributing to other areas of IST, for example to Broadband for All, and to Research Networking.