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Describe the following terms: (a) Heuristic Function (b) Software Agent

A heuristic function is a key concept in artificial intelligence, particularly in the context of search algorithms. It is a function that estimates the cost or value of a specific state in a problem space. The primary purpose of a heuristic function is to guide the search process towards the most promising paths, thus improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the search. For example, In the A* search algorithm, a heuristic function (often denoted as ℎ(𝑛)) estimates the cost from the current node to the goal.

A software agent is an autonomous computer program that performs tasks on behalf of users or other programs with some degree of independence or autonomy. Software agents operate without direct human intervention, making decisions based on predefined rules or learning from their environment. There are various types of software agents, including:

  • Intelligent Agents: Capable of learning and adapting to new situations (e.g., recommendation systems).

  • Mobile Agents: Can move across different networked environments to perform tasks (e.g., data collection agents).

  • Multi-Agent Systems: Consist of multiple interacting agents that work together to solve complex problems (e.g., swarm robotics, collaborative filtering).

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