Software agents are programs designed to perform tasks autonomously. Mail-agents attempt to provide useful functions about electronic mail (E-mail) service, such as information .ltering, gathering, and scheduling. With Internet use continuing to explode, the information overload is growing so fast that the same virtues that made E-mail so popular are now becoming a negative technologic boomerang (see the volume ofjunk or spam mail). Industrial as well as academic research has faced this problem in terms of automated .ltering methods in order to distinguish, at the receiver-side, legitimate E-mail from spamming. Here we describe an alternative approach: our mail system is skilled to .nd, at the sender-side, “appropriate” destinations for a sending message by triggering a spidering process on (a portion of) the Web. This process performs a distributed computation using mobile agents: by applying a similarity-based reasoning on information extracted from the web pages ofpotential addressees, the agents are able to compute a numeric value in [0; 1] which provides, for any address, a measure of the “interest” in receiving the E-mail. The overall architecture is implemented in Java using the basic issues ofInternet protocol.
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