BIG: A Resource-Bounded Information Gathering Agent

Victor Lesser, Bryan Horling, Frank Klassner, Anita Raja, Thomas Wagner, Shelley XQ. Zhang

Effective information gathering on the WWW is a complex task requiring planning, scheduling, text processing, and interpretation-style reasoning about extracted data to resolve inconsistencies and to refine hypotheses about the data. This paper describes the rationale, architecture, and implementation of a next generation information gathering system - a system that integrates several areas of AI research under a single research umbrella. The goal of this system is to exploit the vast number of information sources available today on the NII including a growing number of digital libraries, independent news agencies, government agencies, as well as human experts providing a variety of services. The large number of information sources and their different levels of accessibility, reliability and associated costs present a complex information gathering coordination problem. Our solution is an information gathering agent, BIG, that plans to gather information to support a decision process, reasons about the resource trade-offs of different possible gathering approaches, extracts information from both unstructured and structured documents, and uses the extracted information to refine its search and processing activities.

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