A Game-Theoretic Account of Collaboration in Communication

Koiti Hasida, Katashi Nagao, Miyata Takashi

Natural systems of communication are efficient in the sense that a single message can convey different semantic contents in different contexts. The robust disambiguation required for this efficiency is accounted for in game-theoretic terms, based on the fact that communication is inherently collaborative in the sense that both the sender and the receiver of a message basically want that the receiver interprets the message to mean the semantic content that the sender intended, even if either party may be unsincere. Both parties are motivated to share the context of communication, which renders an occasion of communication an n-person game, and the optimal encoding of contents by messages is obtained as an equilibrium maximizing the sum of the agents’ expected utilities over the whole context. Some heuristics concerning natural language anaphora are demonstrated to follow from this account.

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