Emergence of Gricean Maxims from Multi-Agent Decision Theory

Adam Vogel, Max Bodoia, Christopher Potts and Daniel Jurafsky

Grice characterized communication in terms of the cooperative principle, which enjoins speakers to make only contributions that serve the evolving conversational goals. We show that the cooperative principle and the associated maxims of relevance, quality, and quantity emerge from multi-agent decision theory. We utilize the Decentralized Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (Dec-POMDP) model of multi-agent decision making which relies only on basic definitions of rationality and the ability of agents to reason about each other's beliefs in maximizing joint utility. Our model uses cognitively-inspired heuristics to simplify the otherwise intractable task of reasoning jointly about actions, the environment, and the nested beliefs of other actors. Our experiments on a cooperative language task show that reasoning about others' belief states, and the resulting emergent Gricean communicative behavior, leads to significantly improved task performance.

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