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aglet (agile applet)

1) In computer technology, an aglet (or "agile applet") is a small application program or applet with the capability to serve as a mobile agent of services in a computer network. An aglet has these characteristics:

  • Object-passing capability. It is a complete program object with its own methods, data states, and travel itinerary that can send other aglets or pass itself along in a network as an entity.
  • Autonomous. An aglet has the ability to decide on its own what actions to take and where and when to go elsewhere.
  • Interaction with other program objects. It can interact locally with other aglets or stationary objects. When necessary, it can dispatch itself or other aglets to remote locations to interact with other objects there.
  • Disconnected operation. If a computer is currently disconnected from the network, the aglet can schedule itself to move when the computer is reconnected.
  • Parallel execution. Multiple aglets can be dispatched to run concurrently in different computers.

An aglet is a class or template in the Java object-oriented programming language and the mobile agent instances of its use are also called aglets.

Relatively simple examples of aglets are applications in which one aglet can dispatch another to a remote computer to display a note or to search for information and send it back or to notify a user on another computer that a page had changed. Much more complicated applications are envisioned (or are waiting to be envisioned).

The term apparently originated at IBM's research laboratory in Japan. IBM offers a free Aglets Workbench, which is a visual programming environment for creating aglets. IBM has also created an application program interface, the Agent Transfer Protocol (ATP), for transferring agents between networked computers. Both the Agent Transfer Protocol and the Workbench framework protocol have been offered to the Object Management Group (OMG), an industry standards body, as a proposal for a standard Mobile Agent Facility. IBM is offering the Workbench free to developers.

2) An aglet is also the small plastic or fiber tube that binds the end of a shoelace (or similar cord) to prevent fraying and to allow the lace to be passed through an eyelet or other opening.

This was last updated in April 2005

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