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Friday, November 11, 2011

How Computer Science Agents Can Help in Medical Informatics

We've been trying to sneak them under your radar, almost certainly without success, but here in broad daylight we declare: the last of our updates from the NOCRI Information Systems workshop - and we have mercifully little to say on the talks as Prof. Michael Luck's abstract says it all [Prof. Luck is the Head of the Department of Informatics at King's College London]. Our only comment is that it might be worth checking out the PDF "50 facts about agent-based computing", which Prof. Luck mentioned, to consider some current applications of computer agents across a variety of industries. His abstract is presented here:

“Agents are computer systems capable of flexible autonomous action in dynamic, unpredictable, typically multi-agent domains. In particular, in dynamic and open environments, heterogeneous systems must interact, span organisational boundaries, and operate effectively within rapidly changing circumstances and with dramatically increasing quantities of available information. Thus, the need for some degree of autonomy, to enable components to respond dynamically to changing circumstances while trying to achieve over-arching objectives. For example, in the domain of bioinformatics, determining protein function can involve multiple independent processes connected together, operating on multiple independent data sources, in some workflow. In this context, multi-agent systems, in which the various processes and data sources are encapsulated as agents that interact with each other, can provide a means to manage primary databases, perform sequence analyses (using existing tools), or store and present resulting information in a coherent fashion. In the domain of e-medical records, multi-agent systems may similarly provide the means to integrate disparate processes and data sources. Rather than offer new methods for performing these tasks, this instead organises existing methods for effective and flexible operation.”

That wraps up the NOCRI workshop except to say that the two concrete Next Steps to come out of it sound promising: the first being the organisation of a co-ordinating group to further knowledge sharing in informatics and the second being the creation of a web-resource for learning materials.

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