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The design and development of Internet applications requiring dynamic and possibly mobile access to Internet resources can take advantage of an approach based on autonomous mobile agents. However, mobility introduces peculiar issues related to the modeling and management of the agents' coordination activities. This paper introduces context-dependent coordination as a framework for the design and development of Internet applications based on mobile agents, and shows how it can be supported by a proper coordination infrastructure. Context-dependent coordination is centered on the notion of programmable coordination media, as the software abstraction via which an agent in an Internet site can access to local resources and coordinate with local agents. Programmability stems from the fact that the behavior of the media can be fully configured to influence agents' coordination activities. This enables local administrators to configure coordination media so as to enact site-dependent coordination policies, and mobile agents to configure the accessed coordination media to obtain an application-dependent behavior of the media themselves. Several application examples shows that exploiting context-dependent coordination promotes a clear separation of concerns in design and development, and can make applications more modular and easier to be maintained. The MARS system is assumed as an exemplar coordination infrastructure to clarify the concepts expressed and to show their actual implementation.
Date of Publication: Nov 2002