Convergence analysis for collective vocabulary development

Wang Jun, Les Gasser, Jim Houk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We study how decentralized agents can develop shared vocabularies without global coordination. Answering this question can help us understand the emergence of many communication systems, from bacterial communication to human languages, as well as helping to design algorithms for supporting self-organizing information systems such as social tagging or ad-word systems for the web. We introduce a formal communication model in which senders and receivers can adapt their communicative behaviors through a type of win-stay lose-shift adaptation strategy. We find by simulations and analysis that for a given number of meanings, there exists a threshold for the number of words below which the agents can't converge to a shared vocabulary. Our finding implies that for a communication system to emerge, agents must have the capability of inventing a minimum number of words or sentences. This result also rationalizes the necessity for syntax, as a tool for generating unlimited sentences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Fifth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems
Number of pages3
StatePublished - 2006
EventFifth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS - Hakodate, Japan
Duration: May 8 2006May 12 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Conference on Autonomous Agents


OtherFifth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, AAMAS


  • Self-organizing vocabularies
  • Win-stay lose-shift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Convergence analysis for collective vocabulary development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this