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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A game -theoretic model of grounding for referential communication tasks
by Thompson, William, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2009, 174; 3386515
Abstract (Summary)

Conversational grounding theory proposes that language use is a form of rational joint action, by which dialog participants systematically and collaboratively add to their common ground of shared knowledge and beliefs. Following recent work applying game theory to pragmatics, this thesis develops a game-theoretic model of grounding that formalizes the core claims of grounding theory. This game-theoretic model is based on the concept of signaling games, originally proposed as a model of linguistic convention. In order to account for grounding, this thesis proposes to extend signaling games with an observation model, which allows for the possibility that the actions a participant takes may only be partially observable to others. This game-theoretic model is applied to the domain of referential communication tasks, a type of task commonly used in psycholinguistic experiments. The model generates predictions about how dialog participants in such tasks package referential expressions into installments, by calculating an optimal trade-off of cost and uncertainty. These predictions are experimentally evaluated with a novel variant of an online referential communication task.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kaufmann, Stefan H.
Commitee: Gergle, Darren R., Horton, William S.
School: Northwestern University
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Cognitive psychology, Artificial intelligence
Keywords: Conversational grounding, Dialogue systems, Game theory, Linguistics, Referential communication tasks, Signaling games
Publication Number: 3386515
ISBN: 978-1-109-51862-7
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