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DARPA Agent Mark Up Language (DAML)
Program Manager: Professor James Hendler 

Mission and Vision

The goal of the DAML program is to create technologies that will enable software agents to dynamically identify and understand information sources, and to provide interoperability between agents in a semantic manner. This goal will be pursued by a research plan that includes the following six tasks:

  1. Create an Agent Mark-Up Language (DAML) built upon XML that allows users to provide machine-readable semantic annotations for specific communities of interest.
  2. Create tools that embed DAML markup on to web pages and other information sources in a manner that is transparent and beneficial to the users.
  3. Use these tools to build up, instantiate, operate, and test sets of agent-based programs that markup and use DAML.
  4. Measure, via empirical experimentation, the productivity improvements provided by these tools.
  5. Apply these tools to third party agent development, military-specific problems, and support for the intelligence community so as to evolve DAML technologies towards large-scale use.
  6. Transition DAML to the commercial and military markets via partnerships with industrial and defense-related (C2 and intelligence) organizations.


The modern information technology world is a dynamically changing environment with an exponentially increasing ability to create and publish data that rapidly swamps human abilities to process that data into information. Agent-based computing can potentially help us to recognize complex patterns in this widely distributed, heterogeneous, uncertain information environment. Unfortunately, this potential is hampered by the difficulty agents face in understanding and interacting with data that is either unprocessed or in natural languages. The inability of agents to understand the conceptual concepts on a web page, their difficulty in handling the semantics inherent in the outputs of a program, and the complexity of fusing information concept from the outputs of sensors, to name but a few problems, truly keep the "agent revolution" from occurring.

One potential solution to this problem is for humans to, as it were, meet the computer half way. By using tools to provide mark-up annotations attached to data sources, information can be made available to the agents in new and exciting ways. Going far beyond XML, the goal of this program is to develop a language aimed at representing semantic relations in machine readable ways compatible with current and future Internet technologies. Further, prototype tools will be developed to show the potential of such markups to provide revolutionary capabilities that will change the way humans interact with information. Deployment of such tools to military and intelligence users, and showing the incredible dual use potential of such a technology, caps off the programs goals.

To realize this solution, Internet markup languages must move beyond the implicit semantic agreements inherent in XML and community-specific controlled languages, and move towards making semantic entities and markup a primary goal DARPA will lead the way with the development of DARPA Agent markup Language (DAML). DAML will be a semantic language that ties the information on a page to machine-readable semantics (ontology). The language must allow for communities to extend simple ontologies for their own use, allowing the bottom-up design of meaning while allowing sharing of higher level concepts. In addition, the language will provide mechanisms for the explicit representation of services, processes and business models, so as to allow non-explicit information (such as that encapsulated in programs or sensors) to be recognized.

DAML will provide a number of advantages over current markup approaches. It will allow semantic interoperability at the level we currently have syntactic interoperability in XML. Objects in the web can be marked (manually or automatically) to include descriptions of information they encode, descriptions of functions they provide, and/or descriptions of data they can produce. This will allow web pages, databases, programs, models, and sensors all to be linked together by agents that use DAML to recognize the concepts they are looking for. If successful, information fusion from diverse sources will become a reality.

Military Utility
DAML enables flexible tools for military software development and use information gathering by allowing agents to use DAML/ontology for search. It provides software development enabling algorithms/code fractions that advertise critical properties. The coupling of legacy systems where "Agentization" of systems enabled through grid interoperability mechanisms advertise capabilities in DAML.

Validation Date: 01Jan00

Related Information

DAML Overview


For more information, please contact Professor James Hendler at jhendler@darpa.mil