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L. Leth and B. Thomsen worked on designing programming languages and advanced end-user applications, to be serving as a ``laboratory'' in which theoretical results are transferred into industrial usage.
A new research programme, called the ICL GTD (Group Technical Directorate) framework in Agents and Mobility, has been set up. The programme encourages ICL businesses to take part in the research process from an early stage to ensure they are prepared for knowledge and technology transfer as results emerge. The framework includes setting up a virtual laboratory in collaboration with Fujitsu Laboratories, coordinating sponsored medium/longer term research at universities and external research laboratories (ANSA at APM, Cambridge and IC-Parc at Imperial College), a number of research and development projects with ICL businesses (TeamWare, Financial Services, ProcessWise and DAIS) and coordinating and participating in ICL efforts in defining market and technical strategies, architectural and methodological developments across the company.
There have been activities on understanding the relationship between mobile agents, higher order processes, Milner's action structures, distributed concurrent functional programming languages, such as Facile and Business Process Modeling, in particular the POSD formalism developed by ICL ProcessWise. Ppreliminary results may be viewed on the web (http://www.prattens.demon.co.uk/webposd/posdw.htm).
At CNET Lannion, Brisset started to evaluate the usefulness of the join-calculus language for real-world applications. He takes advantage of the features of the join-calculus to design a very primitive distributed search engine that indexes text files residing on a network of workstations. Each workstation runs an autonomous agent which first builds an indexed database of the local files, then answers keyword-based queries while continuously updating the database. The only central element is a name-server whose function is mainly to transmit queries and answers between these agents and client processes. Compared to popular WWW search engines like AltaVista, which fetch files from servers through the Internet and process them in a high-performance, centralized database server, this distributed architecture yields lower network usage (assuming low query rates) and allows the database to be kept consistent with the original files at a much lower cost.
[[LT97a]] Leth Thomsen, L., and Thomsen, B.: ``Mobile Agents - THE new paradigm in computing'', ICL Systems Journal, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp. 14-40, May 1997.
[[LT97b]] Thomsen, B.: ``Programming Languages, Analysis Tools and Concurrency Theory'', ACM Computing Surveys 28A(4), December 1996. (http://www.acm.org/pubs/articles/journals/surveys/1996-28-4es/a57-thomsen/a57-thomsen.html)