As agent technology evolves and permeates traditional information systems, intelligent agents help us to improve our efficiency and effectiveness by simplifying and automating many information processing and decision-making tasks. The following is a sample of current applications of intelligent agents (Jennings & Wooldridge, 1998; Maes et al., 1999; Moukas et al., 2000; Proffitt, 2001):
Interface Agents: Intelligent agents that monitor user behavior over a length of time and then customize the application interface that is tailored to the user's needs.
Foraging and Filtering Agents: Intelligent agents are widely used in automated searching and retrieval of information based on users' queries. They help users to classify, sort, organize, and locate information from various sources such as the Internet, online databases, and government/corporate data warehouses.
Collaborative Filtering Agents: Collaborative filtering agents provide the user with information based on his/her profile and those of other users who share similar interests or activity patterns.
Planning and Scheduling Agents: Intelligent agents that support communications and collaborations among team members.
Procurement Agents: Intelligent agents that support the cooperation between buyers and suppliers, and build a virtual market place to carry out electronic searching, negotiation, ordering and invoicing.
Shopping Agents: Shopping agents, known as shopbots, are designed to help the user to find the best bargain with minimum effort.
E-commerce Agents: While shopping agents are servants to buyers of the online markets, e-commerce agents are deployed to help the sellers or facilitate the transactions.
Decision Support Agents: Intelligent agents that have access to databases and analytical tools and provide decision support. Various artificial intelligence techniques can be implemented, including but not limited to: statistical analysis, rule-base expert systems, case-based reasoning, heuristic search, fuzzy logic, neural networks, and evolutionary computing.
Personal Assistant Agents: Intelligent agents that provide individual, customtailored services, typically aimed at individual information organization and personal productivity.
Network Management Agents: Intelligent agents that automatically monitor, allocate, coordinate, and manage network services over an intranet and/or the Internet. They can assist in network administration tasks like routing, access and service provisions.
Data Mining Agents: Intelligent agents using analytical tools to identify patterns, trends, and critical events in large amounts of data in databases or on the Web. They can also be used to cooperate with personal agents to extract useful information from databases.
Directory and Category Agents: Intelligent agents that automatically search the Internet and the Web and create directories and categories of information and services, such as those used by Google and other search engine companies.
There are numerous intelligent agents that are not easily placed into the above categories. Many of them are designed in well-defined knowledge domains. Examples include training agents, monitoring and control agents, travel agents, meeting and scheduling agents, financial agents, and communications agents. The rapid development of computer and communications technologies, particularly recent standards-based technologies such as XML Web services, should lead to even more widespread applications of intelligent agents.