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 AgentLink III First Technical Forum (AL3-TF1)
Rome, 30 June - 2 July 2004

Call for Technical Forum Groups

AgentLink III (AL3)
AgentLink III (AL3) is a successor to AgentLink II, the IST-funded Network of Excellence for agent-based systems established in August 2000. Agent-based systems are one of the most vibrant and important areas of research and development to have emerged in information technology in the last decade, and underpin many aspects of the broader IST FP6.  Agents represent the most important new paradigm for software development since object-orientation, and are likely to play a crucial role within several advanced application domains, such as Ambient Intelligence, Grid Computing, Electronic Business, the Semantic Web, Bioinformatics, and others including monitoring and control, resource  management, and space, military and manufacturing applications, for example.  AL3 aims to act as a unifying focus for agent-based activities in these different domains.  The intended target audience comprises academic, research and industrial organizations throughout Europe and the Associated States engaged in agent-related research and  development, and/or applications of agent technologies.  As with AgentLink and AgentLink II, the long-term aim of AL3 is to put Europe at the leading edge of international competitiveness in this increasingly important area.  Along this line, AL3 aims at providing a widely known, high-quality European forum in which current issues,  problems, and solutions in the research, development and deployment of agentbased computer systems may be debated, discussed, and resolved. 

Technical Forum Groups (TFG)
One of the main activities of AgentLink and AgentLink II was to establish a number of special interest  groups (SIGs). An AgentLink SIG was a group of researchers and developers sharing an interest in a specific sub-area of agent technology. SIGs were not established in a top-down manner: they were formed as a result of mostly unsolicited, refereed proposals made by AgentLink II members. However, the SIGs of AgentLink II largely continued in the same structure as those of AgentLink.  In an effort to ensure effective and appropriate representation, and to reflect the dynamism of the field, as  well as to establish links to related disciplines, AL3 will establish a periodic Technical Forum (AL3-TF), in which Technical Forum Groups (TFGs) will meet to discuss issues of key interest. The aims of the AL3 Technical Fora are:  
- to facilitate the dynamic development of communities around specific areas of strategic importance  for European agent R&D, enabling them to share common problems, issues, and results in a manner that other forums (e.g., academic workshops and conferences) do not allow; 
- to respond dynamically to fast-changing developments; 
- to develop and update the AL3 roadmap from AgentLink II; 
- to provide the AL3 management committee with "bottom-up" input to its decision-making process, and hence ensure that the strategic direction of the network is reactive to the needs of its  members; 
- to establish links with related areas within computing, and related areas in other research disciplines, such as economics and biology. 

TFGs will be selected on a "per event" basis, in response to *bids* for each Technical Forum, with decisions being made in relation to links to related areas, industrial relevance and contribution to roadmapping. New areas that have no obvious forum for discussion of important issues will be prioritised.  More precisely, AL3 will accept TFG of the following sorts:
- Application-area TFGs. These TFGs are intended to focus on promising application areas for agent technology.  Apart from the expansion upon AgentLink II's programme of application-area SIGs, TFGs will be encouraged to find support from other (national and European) sources in  addition to AL3, and to form collaborations for projects, particularly with respect to the IST  programme
- Research-area TFGs.  One of the key activities of AgentLink II  was the instigation of a number of research SIGs. The corresponding TFGs in AL3 are collections of nodes, working on closely related underlying technologies. Particular emphasis here will be given to establishing links with related areas and to other disciplines, in an effort to draw together the critical mass of researchers across relevant domains.
- Inter-network TFGs. One aspect of AgentLink II's activities that proved to be of great interest to the wider IT and  telecommunications communities was a number of meetings held in cooperation with other networks of excellence, such as COMPULOGNET, ONTOWEB and I3NET. These meetings provided researchers and developers working in both  communities with the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas, and identify issues of common interest.  This activity area will be continued and expanded in AL3, with links to related networks of excellence (such as OntoWeb II) and to related integrated projects.   

TFGs will get several benefits from AL3. A number of participants per each TFG (depending on the number of TFGs at each Forum) will get support for travel. Participants will receive copies of handouts/proceedings, and organisers will delegate provision of the meeting rooms, organisation of the event, etc., to AL3 staff. Also, after several years of successful work, AgentLink is a relevant scientific brand, and the whole AL3 structure will strongly help spreading TFG's scientific results, e.g. through AL3 Raodmap.

Information on TFGs will be made available via the AL3 Web site, with a web presence  ensuring the life of the group beyond the meeting itself. TFGs supported by AL3  will be required, as a condition of funding, to write a report on the TFG meeting, and on activities  preceding and resulting from the meeting, for subsequent inclusion in the AL3 newsletter and the AL3 Web site.  Each TFG will have a chairperson (TFG Chair), responsible for liaising with  AL3, managing the activities of the TFG, and responsible for all the committments of the TFG. 

The First AgentLink III Technical Forum  (AL3-TF1)
The First AgentLink III Technical Forum (AL3-TF1) will take place in Rome from 30 June to 2 July 2004.  AL3-TF1 will host the first meetings of the AL3 TFGs in form of either half-day or full-day events (longer durations to be negotiated on request).  However, even though AL3-TF1 will represent the peak of the TFG's work, it will not exhaust their activity, which will instead have three main phases:

1) AL3-TF1 Preparation.
During this stage, TFG's Chairs will be responsible to contact all the potential researcher, institutions and companies that may have an interest or a contribution to bring to the TFG. They will determine the *subthemes* that the TFG meeting will explore, and (mostly important) they will define the *format* that the meeting will follow. In fact, the format is free: it might be a traditional debate led by invited contributors, a mixture of presentations and discussions, but original formats or modalities are welcome -- like special challenges, one-to-one debates, task-driven subgroup sessions -- whatever may help achieving the goals of the TFG. This will be negotiated with the Forum Chairs, and revised by the Scientific committee -- but mostly, original forms of interaction and discussion are encouraged indeed.
The responsibility of the TFG Chair here is clearly to provide the Forum Chairs and AL3 Staff with a *TFG program* in time before the meeting takes place. Also, any material to be distributed to AL3-TF1 attendees should be made available to the organisation in advance, so as to allow for production and delivery -- as well as its Web availability through the AL3 Web site. Otherwise, TFG Chairs will be asked to prepare and distribute the material by themselves.

2) AL3-TF1 Meeting. 
During the official meeting, the TFG Chair will be in charge of conducting the meeting, to enable and promote the active contribution of all the participants, and to drive the TFG's work towards the achievement of the TFG's goals -- this, as much as possible, without a priori limiting the free exchange of ideas and results among the participants. The meeting formats should possibly be explored and exploited at their best, at the same time trying to avoid rigidity, that may potentially prevent some unexpected results to emerge. 
At the end of the TFG meetings, global AL3-TF1 meetings will take place, where Forum Chairs will provide a general view of the Technical Forum, while the TFG Chairs will be asked to report briefly on TFG's activities and perspectives as well.

3) AL3-TF1 Post-production. After the event the TFG chairs will summarise the proceedings of the event for both the TFG and the wider AL3 community. This will consist of (at least):
	- providing all the materials used/produced by participants during the meeting to be exposed in the AL3 Web site
	- write a *TFG report* within two weeks after the meeting, that could provide a veracious account of the event, and summarise the most relevant contributions and results achieved. Also, some reporting about perspective activities should be included. Such a report should work as both an input for AL3 roadmap and Management Committee, and a potential report for AgentLink News. Such a contribution might be produced by TFG Chairs alone, but also (preferrably) with the active contributions by TFG's most active participants.
	- possibly, point out relevant contributions that could become stand-alone research contributions for AgentLink News, and also potential candidate papers for special issues of agent-related journals. Also, independent follow-ups promoted by TFG Chairs in terms of volumes or publications of any sort is welcome and encouraged.

The prosecution of the TFG's activity after AL3-TF1 will depend on the success of the event, the relevance of continuation of activity, and also to the ability of TFG's Chair to properly fullfil to all responsibilities and committments in AL3-TF1.

Proposal Submission Guidelines
Proposals for holding a TFG in the First AgentLink III Technical Forum should be sent to the Forum Chairs through the AL3 Web site, providing:

- Title of the proposed TFG
- Scope and Aims of the TFG activity (short description, max. 200 words)
- TFG Category (application-area / research-area / inter-network)
- TFG Chair: Name, affiliation and mail/Web address of the proposed TFG Chairperson
- Other TFG Promoters: Names, affiliations and mail/Web addresses of at least three other researchers committing to participate to the TFG activity (from at least two different institutions, other than the TFG Chair's one)
- Related Activity, Connections & Perspectives of TFG Chair & Promoters: Why the proposers should be the ones that take care of such a TFG? (a couple of paragraphs and if possible a URL to a personal Web page for each proposer)
- Assessment of Potential Interest: Who is going to be interested -- individuals, groups and institutions?
- "Outline plan" of TFG activities: Which sorts of actions will be pursued before, during and after the TFG meeting at AL3-TF1?
- Intended Format of the TFG meeting at AL3-TF1: Duration, activities, role of the Chair, expected outcomes, etc.
- Procedures to produce the deliverables after AL3-TF1

Proposals will be reviewed by at least two members of the Scientific Committees, and accepted / rejected by the Forum Chairs on behalf of the AL3 Management Committee.

Q: Which benefits will TFGs get from AL3?
A: The main benefits are:
   - support for travel for a number of participants per TFG
   - copies of handouts/proceedings, etc.
   - provision of the meeting rooms, organisation of the event, etc.
   - AL3 branding
   - spreading of the scientific results of the TFG work

Q: Will TFGs' life span over the whole AL3 duration?
A: In principle, no. TFG's proposals are submitted in response to a single Technical Forum call, and their life matches the Technical Forum's one. But, successful TFGs may re-iterate the proposal to the subsequent Technical Forum, and could be accepted by the Scientific Committee and the Program Chairs, provided that there is a good reason to repeat the TFG meeting.

Q: Should TFG Chair form an Organising Committee for the first proposal?
A: In principle, this is not necessary. It can be easily done during the negotiation and preparation stages.

Q: Is there any limit to the TFG proposal that one single researcher / group could present to a Technical Forum call?
A: In principle, no. A single researcher / group may participate / present more than one proposal, and also present different proposals in response to two different Technical Forum calls. However, the SC and the PCs will ensure that the contribution s of any proponent / participant will no exceed some reasonable limit.

Q: Should TFG meeting follow a pre-fixed format?
A: Not at all. As far as ALIII-TFC1 is concerned, the only "format" is either the half-day or full-day duration -- but, also this limit could be negotiated in case of need. Instead, TFGs and their Chair are required to commit to some task, as specified above.

Q: "Original formats or modalities"? What does this mean, any examples?
A: Possible formats to be used for TFGs might be:
   - Blue-sky brainstorming sessions exploring new fields of application or theory.
   - Cross-domain or cross-community events with mixed presentations from a range of stakeholders/communities to explore commonalities and potential joint-work.
   - Challenge events where particular frameworks, tools or methods are applied to sample problems to explore their utility, expressiveness or other properties: advancing the state of the art and understanding of technology application issues.
   - An intensive working event to unify models/events or theories in a particular domain - providing a basis for common terms of reference, structures and frameworks, identifying gaps in current knowledge.
   ... however we hope that the community will come up with other creative uses of the TFGs to push further the research area!

The First AgentLink III Technical Forum will be held in Rome. Details on location will follow soon, and will be available through the AL3 Web site.

TFG Proposal Submission:       9 April 2004
TFG Preliminary Notification: 26 April 2004
AL3-TF1 Preliminary Program:  20 May 2004
AL3-TF1 Takes Place in Rome:  30 June - 2 July 2004

- Cristiano Castelfranchi, Peter McBurney, Andrea Omicini (AL3-TF1 Forum Chairs)
- Andrea Omicini (AL3-WP5 "Technical Forum" Coordinator)

Forum Chair
  Andrea Omicini (Universita' di Bologna a Cesena)
Forum Co-chairs
  Cristiano Castelfranchi (ISTC/CNR Roma), 
  Peter McBurney (University of Liverpool)
Forum Local Liason
  Rino Falcone (ISTC/CNR Roma)
Forum Organisers
  Peter McBurney (University of Liverpool)
  Serena Raffin (University of Southampton)

Scientific Committee
Fabio Bellifemine (TILab, Italy)
Monique Calisti (Whitestein Technologies, Switzerland)
Jacques Calmet (Universitat Karlsruhe)
Frank Dignum (Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Barbara Dunin-Keplicz (Warsaw University, Poland)
Rino Falcone (ISTC/CNR Roma, Italy)
Matthias Klusch (DFKI, Germany)
Manolis Koubarakis (Technical University of Crete, Greece)
Michael Luck (University of Southampton, UK)
John-Jules Ch. Meyer (Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands)
Jean-Pierre Muller (CIRAD, France)
Pablo Noriega (IIIA, Spain)
Sascha Ossowski (Universidad Rey Carlos, Madrid, Spain)
Michal Pechoucek (Czech Technical University, Czech Republic)
Paolo Petta (Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Austria)
Stefan Poslad (Queen Mary, University of London, UK)
Alessandro Ricci (Universita' di Bologna a Cesena, Italy)
Giovanni Rimassa
Michael Rovatsos (Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany)
Wiebe van der Hoek (University of Liverpool, UK)
Steven Willmott (Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain)
Valentina Tamma (University of Liverpool, UK)
Franco Zambonelli (Universita' di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy)