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<p><b>Abstract</b>—A <it>reusable agent</it> is a self-contained computational system that implements some specific expertise and that can be embedded into diverse applications requiring that expertise. Systems composed of heterogeneous reusable agents are potentially highly adaptable, maintainable, and affordable, assuming that integration issues such as information sharing, coordination, and conflict management can be effectively addressed. In this article, we investigate sharing metalevel search information to improve system performance, specifically with respect to how sharing affects the quality of solutions and the runtime efficiency of a reusable-agent system. We first give a formal description of shareable metainformation in systems where agents have private knowledge and databases and where agents are specifically intended to be reusable. We then present and analyze experimental results from a mechanical design system for steam condensers that demonstrate performance improvements related to information sharing and assimilation. Finally, we discuss the practical benefits and limitations of information sharing in application systems comprising heterogeneous reusable agents. Issues of pragmatic interest include determining what types of information can realistically be shared and determining when the costs of sharing outweigh the benefits.</p>
Reusable agents, information (knowledge) sharing, distributed search, multiagent systems, system performance, mechanical design, distributed artificial intelligence.

V. R. Lesser and S. E. Lander, "Sharing Metainformation to Guide Cooperative Search Among Heterogeneous Reusable Agents," in IEEE Transactions on Knowledge & Data Engineering, vol. 9, no. , pp. 193-208, 1997.
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