KQML--A Language and Protocol for Knowledge and Information Exchange

Tim Finin and Rick Fritzon

This paper describes the design of and experimentation with the Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language (KQML), a new language and protocol for exchanging information and knowledge. This work is part a larger effort, the ARPA Knowledge Sharing Effort which is aimed at developing techniques and methodology for building large-scale knowledge bases which are sharable and reusable. KQML is both a message format and a message-handling protocol to support run-time knowledge sharing among agents. KQML can be used as a language for an application program to interact with an intelligent system or for two or more intelligent systems to share knowledge in support of cooperative problem solving. KQML focuses on an extensible set of performatives, which defines the permissible operations that agents may attempt on each other’s knowledge and goal stores. The performatives comprise a substrate on which to develop higher-level models of inter-agent interaction such as contract nets and negotiation. In addition, KQML provides a basic architecture for knowledge sharing through a special class of agent called communication facilitators which coordinate the interactions of other agents The ideas which underlie the evolving design of KQML are currently being explored through experimental prototype systems which are being used to support several testbeds in such areas as concurrent engineering, intelligent design and intelligent planning and scheduling.


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