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Adelinde M Uhrmacher, Paul Fishwick, and Bernard P Zeigler (2001)

Scanning the Issue Special Issue on Agents in Modeling and Simulation: Exploiting the Metaphor

Proceedings of the IEEE, 89(2):127-129.

Metaphor plays a key role in computer science and engineering. New ideas and methods are infused into existing areas creating fresh material and methodologies in the process. A real “agent” is someone who performs a service on our behalf. The achievement of the underlying goal may require varying degrees of autonomy. For example, a travel agent who is familiar with our predilections may make many decisions without consulting us. If we take the everyday meaning of “agent” and marry it with software development, we derive the metaphorical “software agent.” The relationship between software agents and simulation environments goes two ways. On the one hand, software agents address the need for programs that collaborate to solve problems in open and dynamic environments. As the number and complexity of agent-oriented programs increases, so does the demand for software engineering tools and simulation systems that can help with the design and testing of such programs. On the other hand, using the agent as programming metaphor, agent-oriented techniques may open up solution possibilities for some urgent problems in the development of modeling and simulation environments themselves. These problems include how to facilitate reuse and exchange of models and services between systems, how to bring models and data together from widely dispersed sources, and others. So this special issue addresses both the simulation of multiagent systems as well as the application of such systems to the modeling and simulation process itself.

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