A mobile agent architecture for distributed information management
Large-scale networked environments, such as the Internet, possess the characteristics of distributed data, distributed access and distributed control; this gives the user a powerful mechanism for building and integrating large repositories of distributed information from diverse resource sets. However, few support tools have been developed to allow the user to take advantage of the distributed nature of their information. Distributed information management is the process by which users can create, disseminate, discover and manage information that is spread across distributed resources. Distributed open hypermedia systems have shown how distributed information, such as documents and hypermedia links, can be managed and handled within an environment that integrates smoothly between the user's desktop and the network. However, such systems are now looking at addressing the problem of interoperability across hypermedia systems, so that documents and links can be shared between users on heterogeneous integrating technologies. This thesis proposes that the distributed information management provided by open hypermedia systems needs to be extended so that it is more interoperable, extensible and pervasive and that this can be achieved by integrating the principles of open hypermedia with the technology of mobile agents. Mobile agents present a new development mechanism for designing and building distributed applications which are well suited to the dynamic environment of large-scale networks. This thesis describes the development of a mobile agent architecture within which distributed information management tasks can be built and executed. Mobile agents present an important abstraction mechanism when designing distributed environments and also allow the user to manage distributed information indirectly through their mobile agents. A number of prototype agents are described that have been developed to illustrate distributed information management tasks within the architecture and to show how abstractionism and indirect management can be achieved.