SUMMARY REPORT

Project acronym: VIM
Title: A virtual multicomputer for symbolic applications
Contract no.: CHRX-CT93-0401
Contractual period: start date: 1994-01-01, end date: 1997-12-31, duration 48 months (including 12 month extension).
Coordinator: PADGET, Julian, Dr., University of Bath, United Kingdom (GB). Telephone: +44 1225 826971. Fax: +44 1225 826492.
Other participants: STEELS Luc, Prof., AI Lab VUB, Brussel(BE)
GOERIGK Wolfgang, Dr., CAU Kiel (DE)
CHRISTALLER Thomas, Prof., GMD FIT.KI (DE)
SODAN Angela, Dr., GMD FIRST (DE)
CORTES Ulises, Dr., UPC Barcelona (ES)
SIERRA Carles, Dr., IIIA Barcelona (ES)
TORRA Vicenç, Dr., URV Tarragona (ES)
PARQUIER Pierre, Dr., ILOG s.a., Paris (FR)
QUEINNEC Christian, Prof., INRIA, Rocquencourt (FR)
DEROURE David, Dr., University of Southampton (GB)
CRAIG Iain, Dr., University of Warwick (GB)
ATTARDI Giuseppe, Dr., Universitá di Pisa (IT)
GISOLFI Antonio, Dr., Universitá di Salerno (IT)
MANGO FURNARI Mario, Dr., CNR Napoli (IT)
Objectives of the network: The three topics which bind this network together are parallel and distributed systems, advanced compilation techniques and artificial intelligence (AI) with a common substrate in the programming language Lisp. The research aim of this project is to demonstrate the advantages accruing from the combination of these three technologies to build a virtual multicomputer for large scale symbolic applications. A virtual multicomputer is an ephemeral, persistent machine of available heterogeneous computing resources (workstation, shared-memory multiprocessor, distributed memory multiprocessor, array processor). The system supports a virtual processor abstraction to distribute data and tasks across the multicomputer, the actual physical composition of which may change dynamically. Our practical objective is to assist the prototyping of dynamic distributed symbolic applications in artificial intelligence and computer algebra using whatever resources are available.
Rôles of the participating teams: AI Lab VUB, Brussel(BE): reflective architectures, knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
CAU Kiel (DE): static analysis, semantics and verification.
GMD FIT.KI (DE): knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
GMD FIRST (DE): static analysis, semantics and verification, parallel models and systems, parallel applications.
UPC Barcelona (ES): knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
IIIA Barcelona (ES): knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
URV Tarragona (ES): knowledge representation and knowledge bases, parallel models and systems, parallel applications.
ILOG s.a., Paris (FR): did not participate in practice.
INRIA, Rocquencourt (FR): reflective architectures, knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed systems, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
University of Southampton (GB): reflective architectures, semantics and verification, distributed systems, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
University of Warwick (GB): reflective architectures, knowledge representation and knowledge bases. This partner was an individual rather than a group and so his research was particularly assisted by the opportunities to collaborate with similarly interested parties.
Universitá di Pisa (IT): reflective architectures, knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed systems, training of young researchers.
Universitá di Salerno (IT): knowledge representation and knowledge bases, distributed systems, distributed applications, training of young researchers.
CNR Napoli (IT):distributed systems, distributed applications.

All the partners have benefitted from interactions with the other partners bilaterally and multilaterally, but above all through the exchange of young researchers (postgraduate and postdoctoral) which has enabled work which would not otherwise have been done and also fostered stronger links between the partners involved.

Results and achievements:

The three topics identified at the outset have been unified under the subject of agents. In consequence, the individual foci of the partner's research interests can now also been viewed as contributing to a common goal. Reflecting this theme, two workshops were held in 1997 with the title "Collaboration between human and artificial societies" and the papers from these are expected to be published in 1998.

Fuller details of activities are held on the World Wide Web. In particular, an online repository of project software and information has been set up at Southampton: http://vim.ecs.soton.ac.uk. This service has been used for project-related research as well as information dissemination. The repository may be accessed via the VIM project's WWW home page http://www.maths.bath.ac.uk/~jap/VIM. There you will also find the project annual reports for 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. This summary can be obtained from http://www.maths.bath.ac.uk/~jap/VIM/summary.html.
Training: The training aspects of the network have taken two forms:
  1. appointment of young researchers, mostly from other partners but there have been a few instances of appointments from outside the network.
  2. the involvement of young researchers in presenting the work done at the workshops held in the framework of the project.
Number of publications: There have been 10 joint publications (see 4th annual report statistical summary) and in excess of 30 individual publications.
Keywords: distributed processing; compilers; artificial intelligence; agents; electronic commerce.