Characteristics of software agents

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Intelligent agents are often described schematically as an abstract functional system similar to a computer program. In computer science, the term intelligent agent may be used to refer to a software agent that has some intelligence, regardless if it is not a rational agent by Russell and Norvig’s definition. Intelligent agents have been defined many different ways. Are able to analyze themselves in terms of behavior, error and success. Have parameters to represent short and long term memory, age, forgetting, etc. Agent function is an abstract concept as it could incorporate various principles of decision making like calculation of utility of individual options, deduction over logic rules, fuzzy logic, etc. The program agent, instead, maps every possible percept to an action.

We use the term percept to refer to the agent’s perceptional inputs at any given instant. In the following figures an agent is anything that can be viewed as perceiving its environment through sensors and acting upon that environment through actuators. Simple reflex agents act only on the basis of the current percept, ignoring the rest of the percept history. The agent function is based on the condition-action rule: if condition then action. This agent function only succeeds when the environment is fully observable. Some reflex agents can also contain information on their current state which allows them to disregard conditions whose actuators are already triggered. Infinite loops are often unavoidable for simple reflex agents operating in partially observable environments.

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