Cfengine as an adaptive autonomous agent

May 28th, 2005

Cfengine is a configuration management tool that is widely used to manage networks of Unix systems. It was originally developed at the University of Oslo in 1993. I’ve only been dimly aware of it and assumed it was yet another common system administration tool for Unix. I was surprised to see how it’s described on the Cfengine site:

“About Cfengine: Cfengine, or the configuration engine is an autonomous agent and a middle to high level policy language and agent for building expert systems to administrate and configure large computer networks. Cfengine is designed to be a part of a computer immune system. It is ideal for cluster management and has been adopted for use all over the world in small and huge organizations alike.”

The developers have evolved their approach to use a biologically inspired immunity model and have a recent paper in the Machine Learning Journal.

New ACM journal on Autonomous Adaptive Systems

May 28th, 2005

ACM is launching a new transactions journal, the ACM Transactions on Autonomous Adaptive Systems (TAAS) to be edited by Giovanna Di Marzo Serugendo of the University of Geneva. The aim of the journal is described as…

“(TAAS) is a venue for high quality research contributions addressing foundational, engineering, and technological aspects of complex computing systems exhibiting autonomous and adaptive behavior. TAAS encourages contributions advancing the state of the art in the understanding, development, and control of such systems. Contributions are typically based on sound theoretical models and supported by proper experimentations/validations. Surveys are welcome too.

TAAS domains of interest include: complexity and emergence in software systems, self-ware, autonomic computing and communication, multi-agent systems, peer-to-peer systems, biologically and socially inspired computing, swarm intelligence, pervasive and mobile computing, evolutionary computing. The general goal of the journal is to address the wide range of research being undertaken by an interdisciplinary computing community and to provide a common platform under which this work can be published and disseminated. ”

W3C publishes working drafts based on “Simple Knowledge Organisation System”

May 23rd, 2005

The W3C’s Semantic Web Best Practices and Deployment Working Group aims to “provide hands-on support for developers of Semantic Web applications.” Their approach is to develop and publish notes explaining good ways to tackle common KR problems in RDF and OWL. For example, given RDF’s underlying binary relations, what are good ways to encode the n-ary relationships needed by many domains? If you are building ontologies or just trying to understand how RDF and OWL should be used, you need to take a look at these.

The working group has published three new working drafts:

  • SKOS Core Guide. “SKOS Core provides a model for expressing the basic structure and content of concept schemes (thesauri, classification schemes, subject heading lists, taxonomies, terminologies, glossaries and other types of controlled vocabulary).”
  • SKOS Core Vocabulary Specification. This document gives a reference-style overview of the SKOS Core Vocabulary as it stands at the time of publication. It also describes the policies for ownership, naming, persistence and change by which the SKOS Core Vocabulary is managed.
  • QuickGuide to Publishing a Thesaurus on the Semantic Web. “This document describes in brief how to express the content and structure of a thesaurus, and metadata about a thesaurus, in RDF.”

These join some very useful previous working group notes and working drafts, including the following:

  • Representing Classes As Property Values on the Semantic Web. “This document addresses the issue of using classes as property values in OWL and RDF Schema. It is often convenient to put a class (e.g., Animal) as a property value (e.g., topic or book subject) when building an ontology. While OWL Full and RDF Schema do not put any restriction on using classes as property values, in OWL DL and OWL Lite most properties cannot have classes as their values. We illustrate the direct approach for representing classes as property values in OWL-Full and RDF Schema. We present various alternative mechanisms for representing the required information in OWL DL and OWL Lite.”
  • Defining N-ary Relations on the Semantic Web: Use With Individuals. ” In Semantic Web languages, such as RDF and OWL, a property is a binary relation; that is, it links two individuals or an individual and a value. How do we represent relations among more than two individuals? How do we represent properties of a relation, such as our certainty about it, severity or strength of a relation, relevance of a relation, and so on? The document presents ontology patterns for representing n-ary relations and discusses what users must consider when choosing these patterns.”
  • Representing Specified Values in OWL: “value partitions” and “value sets”. “Modelling various descriptive “features” (also known variously as “qualities”, “attributes” or “modifiers”) is a frequent requirement when creating ontologies. For example: “size” may describe persons or other physical objects and be constrained to take the values “small”, “medium” or “large”; rank may describe military officers and restricted to a specific list of values depending on the military organisation. In OWL such descriptive features are modelled as properties whose range specifies the constraints on the values that the property can take on. This document describes two methods to represent such features and their specified values: 1) as partitions of classes; and 2) as enumerations of individuals.”

Blogging in Asia

May 21st, 2005

Following up on Slashdot’s recent post on Asia Next Frontier in Blogging.
For the curious, and language literate — here’s a partial (and probably noisy) listing of some Japanese/Asian blogs:
cocolog-nifty, fc2, blockblog,
blogzine, lolilop,
mo-blog, exblog,
ocn, dion,
blogical, yahoo,
Ameba, livedoor.

Staying with Asia … here’s one from China and one from India.

Via Glocom. Here’s an interesting piece about growth (and more) of Japanese blogs.

According to new surveys, 93.7 percent of Japanese Internet users were not aware of blogs as of February 2004, but by November of the same year, 60 percent had heard of blogs. Now the number of bloggers in Japan is estimated at 1 million. While most bloggers write their personal journals for fun and not for pay, blog-hosting firm Ameba Blog rewards its most popular blog sites with cash prizes. Known by the nickname “Kazuma,” a 32-year-old blogger who published the true story of his controlling wife earned 1.34 million yen ($12,800) in awards in four months.

Bayesian ontology mapping in OWL

May 19th, 2005

The standard view of the semantic web assumes that we will not have a single consensus ontology for a given domain, but many, each with its own base of users and applications. Thus it’s essential that we have good techniques and tools to translate information expressed in one collection of ontologies into another. One of the issues that we have not yet faced head on is that most of these mappings will probably be approximations. Here’s a good overview of the Bayesian approach to OWL ontology mapping being developed by Yun Peng and his students.

A Bayesian Methodology towards Automatic Ontology Mapping, Zhongli Ding, Yun Peng, Rong Pan, and Yang Yu, AAAI Workshop on Contexts and Ontologies, July 09, 2005.

This paper presents our ongoing effort on developing a principled methodology for automatic ontology mapping based on BayesOWL, a probabilistic framework we developed for modeling uncertainty in semantic web. The proposed method includes four components: 1) learning probabilities (priors about concepts, conditionals between subconcepts and superconcepts, and raw semantic similarities between concepts in two different ontologies) using Naive Bayes text classification technique, by explicitly associating a concept with a group of sample documents retrieved and selected automatically from World Wide Web (WWW); 2) representing in OWL the learned probability information concerning the entities and relations in given ontologies; 3) using the BayesOWL framework to automatically translate given ontologies into the Bayesian network (BN) structures and to construct the conditional probability tables (CPTs) of a BN from those learned priors or conditionals, with reasoning services within a single ontology supported by Bayesian inference; and 4) taking a set of learned initial raw similarities as input and finding new mappings between concepts from two different ontologies as an application of our for-malized BN mapping theory that is based on evidential reasoning across two BNs.

Video game consoles with cutting-edge technology

May 17th, 2005

The specifications of the new XBox 360 and PS3 are amazing. Not only they look good, but also they are built with the latest technologies — e.g., Blu-ray, super fast CPU, Bluetooth controllers, removable hard drivers, Wi-Fi, video chats, and HDTV output.

I think video game consoles will gradually evolve into multi-purpose electronic devices that will serve people beyond video gaming. In the future, probably we will use video game consoles to communicate with friends and families, send email messages, order products online, watch movies, and download music. It will be interesting to see how things will play out between the video game consoles and the digitial entertainment centers.

Side effect: I think the sales of game consoles with HDTV output may boost the sales of HDTV.

Nature red in tooth and claw

May 13th, 2005

Two of our AIX boxes were compromised this week, including the machine that runs most of Swoogle’s services. So, Swoogle and a few of our other research systems will be off line until sometime next week. We’re reorganizing our systems and putting more of them behind the campus firewall, leaving only the interfaces outside the firewall. This isn’t the first time we’ve had such incidents and it won’t be the last. I’m resigned that it will just be this way until the end of time — a constant struggle between the system builders and the crackers. It’s kind of depressing, and maybe that’s why humans tend to believe in an ultimate, apocalyptic day of reckoning — Armageddon, Ragnarok, Yawmid Din, Acharit Hayami — in which Good will finally triumph over Evil. I wonder what the Internet version of this would be like — I hope it’s not a darker version, like Night of the Living Dead. Anyway, look for Swoogle to be up next week.

SimplyHired job search

May 11th, 2005

SimplyHired is a newly launched job aggregation search engine that claims to have more than 3M job listings. It sports a minimal Google-like interface and has two interesting features: (1) you can generate an RSS feed for any job search and (2) if you have a profile on LinkedIn, you can can see those people in your network who works at a company listing a given job.

W3C launches mobile web inititive

May 11th, 2005

The W3C has announced the Mobile Web Initiative with the goal of

“Making Web access from a mobile device as simple, easy and convenient as Web access from a desktop device”

Initial work will be focused on developing “best practices” for “mobileOK” Web sites, work on device information needed for content adaptation, and marketing and outreach activities. This will be carried out in two working groups:

  • The Mobile Web Best Practice Working Group will develop a set of technical best practices and associated materials in support of development of Web sites that provide an appropriate user experience on mobile devices (see mailing list).
  • The Device Description Working Group will address the development of globally accessible, sustainable data and services that provide device descriptions in support of Web-enabled applications having an appropriate user experience on mobile devices (see mailing list).

Grokker search engine

May 10th, 2005

Grokker is now available as a free java-enabled web service. Grokker a web search engine that clusters its results and presents them in a unique circular map. Grokker relies on Yahoo’s search engine (which was built on Inktomi) to produce a result set from a query. Vivisimo’s Clusty is another clustering search engine but one that offers a more traditional hierarchical text-based view of the results and draws on a handful of systems (e.g., Looksmart, Lycos, MSN, …). It would be interesting to compare their clusters. See the NYT article Your Internet Search Results, in the Round for more background.

Policy management for the web workshop proceedings

May 10th, 2005

Policy Management for the Web (PM4W) was a workshop held at WWW 2005 on 10 May 2005. It focused on the use of explicit policies for controlling access to and the behavior of services and information on the web and related computational environments. The PM4W proceedings is available and presentation slides will be posted soon.

Agent reputation and trust testbed

May 4th, 2005

Plans are underway for a trust competition testbed focused on agents and trust. The testbed details are still being discussed and developed and should be finalized and released in Jully 2005, with the first competition to be held in Jully 2006. A paper that describes the current plans for the testbed is

Karen K. Fullam, et al., A Specification of the Agent Reputation and Trust (ART) Testbed: Experimentation and Competition for Trust in Agent Societies, submitted, 2005.

The testbed is intended to “challenge researchers to solve the most prominent problems in the field” by uniting rearchers to work on a “common challenge, out of which can come solutions to these goals via unified experimentation methods.” It is hoped that it will “foster a cohesive scoping of trust research problems, as well as metrics by which to measure the success of technologies in reaching those objectives” as well as “place trust research in the public spotlight, proving the validity of successful research, improving confidence in the technology, and highlighting relevant applications”.