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Journal of Information Science and Engineering, Vol.18 No.4, pp.489-506 (July 2002)


A Distributed Mobile Agent Framework for Maintaining
Persistent Distance Education

Lawrence Y. Deng*, Timothy K. Shih*, Teh-Sheng Huang*,
Yi-Chun Liao*, Ying-Hong Wang* and Hui-Huang Hsu**

Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering
Tamkang University
Tamsui, 251 Taiwan
**Department of Computer Science
Chinese Culture University
Taipei, 111 Taiwan

Mobile agent techniques involve distributed control if communication is required among different types of agents, especially when mobile agents can migrate from station to station. This techniques can be implemented in a distributed distance learning environment, which allows students or instructors to login from anywhere to a central server in an education center while still retaining the look-and-feel of personal setups. In this research paper, we propose a distributed agent framework along with its communication messages to facilitate mobile personal agents, which serve three different groups of distance education users: instructors, students, and system administrators. We propose an agent communication framework as well as agent evolution states of mobile agents. The communication architecture and message transmission protocols are illustrated. The system is implemented on the Windows platform to support nomadic accessibility of remote distance learning users. Personal data also migrate with the mobile agents, allowing users to maintain accessibility to some extent even when the Internet connection is temperately disconnected. Using user-friendly personal agents, a distance education platform can include different tools to meet different needs for users.

Keywords: mobile agent, agent communication network, personal agent, distance education, distributed control

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Received September 3, 2001; accepted April 15, 2002.
Communicated by Jang-Ping Sheu, Myongsoon Park and Makoto Takizawa.