In COSMA, a reusable natural language server is developed with a generic interface to application systems. The server receives client tasks (e.g. analyze or generate an utterance). It is capable of dealing with several clients at a time, engaging in different dialogues and keeping track of the dialogue structure. In order to test its performance, the server is hooked up to autonomous agent systems dedicated to appointment scheduling.

Appointment scheduling is a problem faced daily by many people and organizations, and typically solved using communication in natural language. In general, cooperative interaction between several participants is required whose calendar data are distributed rather than centralized. In this distributed multi-agent environment, the use of natural language systems makes it possible for machines and humans to cooperate in solving scheduling problems.

The domain of appointment scheduling has many practical advantages: it is concrete, well-defined, and extensible; it is a plausible business opportunity; and its success can be evaluated easily by any computer user, even in house.

In order to enable the agent systems to communicate with human participants, the COSMA NL server is used to understand and generate a series of email messages that form a dialogue. The use of e-mail is among the most natural ways to schedule appointments; agents act asynchronously and save precious time.

COSMA is being implemented in Common Lisp and runs on Unix Workstations.

Selected Publications


last modified: Aug 14, 1997 Stephan Busemann (