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<p>The articles in this special issue discuss intelligent agents, with an emphasis on the relationship between artificial intelligence and information technology (as discussed in the accompanying article). As guest editor, I wanted to include an overview and technical material, speculation and implementation, controversial claims and evaluated techniques, as well as research articles and articles of interest to application developers. Although no finite number of articles could actually do all this, I'm very happy to have collected the material included here. There are four main articles, as well as a collection of short pieces by young scientists, making the content of this issue quite diverse and covering a wide spectrum of the work in this field.</p><p>In the first article, Charles Petrie writes about agents and their relevance to engineering applications. He also discusses many issues in terms of what agents are and presents the important issue of differing views about the communication between agents—peer-to-peer versus client/server. This article includes numerous Web pointers and can serve as an excellent starting place for those interested in learning more about agents using the World Wide Web.</p><p>The next article, by David King and Dan O'Leary, focuses on executive information systems. These authors point out that the combination of AI and information technology leads to a new way of looking at information systems for corporate use, and new approaches to accessing information external to the corporation's own data resources. This article also includes many Web pointers, which we hope you will enjoy exploring.</p><p>The third article, by Katia Sycara, Keith Decker, Anandeep Pannu, Mike Williamson, and Dajun Zeng, presents examples of the use of distributed intelligent agents for helping users to retrieve, filter, and fuse information relevant to their tasks. The authors show how such agents are helping in a variety of applications. This article dramatically demonstrates why agent-based computing has become such an important idea in recent years.</p><p>The final feature article, by Moises Lejter and Thomas Dean, focuses on agent-related research, particularly in the area of multiagent architectures. This technical article concentrates on developing and evaluating a framework that addresses a number of issues in understanding multiagent systems. While some might argue that this article is more fitting to <it>Artificial Intelligence</it> or other such journals, I felt it was important to have an article that reflected on some of the exciting research issues in the agents field. I'm grateful to Moises and Tom for letting us publish it here.</p><p>Last, but definitely not least, is a special section for this issue. In an effort to display some of the excitement in the agents field, I asked several young scientists who are doing the leading work in the field to write short pieces speculating on some of the exciting new directions for agents technology. The short pieces by Jim Firby, Ken Haase, Hiroaki Kitano, Jose Ambite and Craig Knoblock, Lynn Stein, Lee Spector, and Pattie Maes indicate many of the new directions being taken by some of the best and brightest of AI's up and coming generation.</p>

J. A. Hendler, "Intelligent Agents: Where AI Meets Information Technology," in IEEE Intelligent Systems, vol. 11, no. , pp. 20-23, 1996.
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