Engineering Agent-Oriented Technologies and Programming Languages for Computer Programming and Software Development

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Mainstream hardware is becoming parallel, heterogeneous, and distributed on every desk, every home and in every pocket. As a consequence, in the last years software is having an epochal turn toward concurrency, distribution, interaction which is pushed by the evolution of hardware architectures and the growing of network availability. This calls for introducing further abstraction layers on top of those provided by classical mainstream programming paradigms, to tackle more effectively the new complexities that developers have to face in everyday programming. A convergence it is recognizable in the mainstream toward the adoption of the actor paradigm as a mean to unite object-oriented programming and concurrency. Nevertheless, we argue that the actor paradigm can only be considered a good starting point to provide a more comprehensive response to such a fundamental and radical change in software development. Accordingly, the main objective of this thesis is to propose Agent-Oriented Programming (AOP) as a high-level general purpose programming paradigm, natural evolution of actors and objects, introducing a further level of human-inspired concepts for programming software systems, meant to simplify the design and programming of concurrent, distributed, reactive/interactive programs. To this end, in the dissertation first we construct the required background by studying the state-of-the-art of both actor-oriented and agent-oriented programming, and then we focus on the engineering of integrated programming technologies for developing agent-based systems in their classical application domains: artificial intelligence and distributed artificial intelligence. Then, we shift the perspective moving from the development of intelligent software systems, toward general purpose software development. Using the expertise maturated during the phase of background construction, we introduce a general-purpose programming language named simpAL, which founds its roots on general principles and practices of software development, and at the same time provides an agent-oriented level of abstraction for the engineering of general purpose software systems.