From partners to populations: A hierarchical Bayesian account of coordination and convention

by   Robert D. Hawkins, et al.

Languages are powerful solutions to coordination problems: they provide stable, shared expectations about how the words we say correspond to the beliefs and intentions in our heads. Yet language use in a variable and non-stationary social environment requires linguistic representations to be flexible: old words acquire new ad hoc or partner-specific meanings on the fly. In this paper, we introduce a hierarchical Bayesian theory of convention formation that aims to reconcile the long-standing tension between these two basic observations. More specifically, we argue that the central computational problem of communication is not simply transmission, as in classical formulations, but learning and adaptation over multiple timescales. Under our account, rapid learning within dyadic interactions allows for coordination on partner-specific common ground, while social conventions are stable priors that have been abstracted away from interactions with multiple partners. We present new empirical data alongside simulations showing how our model provides a cognitive foundation for explaining several phenomena that have posed a challenge for previous accounts: (1) the convergence to more efficient referring expressions across repeated interaction with the same partner, (2) the gradual transfer of partner-specific common ground to novel partners, and (3) the influence of communicative context on which conventions eventually form.


page 1

page 31

page 33

page 34

page 36

page 38

page 39

page 41


Generalizing meanings from partners to populations: Hierarchical inference supports convention formation on networks

A key property of linguistic conventions is that they hold over an entir...

Characterizing the dynamics of learning in repeated reference games

The language we use over the course of conversation changes as we establ...

A Game-Theoretic Model and Best-Response Learning Method for Ad Hoc Coordination in Multiagent Systems

The ad hoc coordination problem is to design an autonomous agent which i...

Modeling Human Ad Hoc Coordination

Whether in groups of humans or groups of computer agents, collaboration ...

Shades of confusion: Lexical uncertainty modulates ad hoc coordination in an interactive communication task

There is substantial variability in the expectations that communication ...

Assisting Unknown Teammates in Unknown Tasks: Ad Hoc Teamwork under Partial Observability

In this paper, we present a novel Bayesian online prediction algorithm f...

The Price of Governance: A Middle Ground Solution to Coordination in Organizational Control

Achieving coordination is crucial in organizational control. This paper ...

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset