The game theory of communication
Course Description: Communication is ubiquitous throughout the living world and occurs at all levels of biological organization, from within the cell to communication between groups. In the last twenty years or so, formal tools from game theory have helped deepen our understanding of the communication by focusing attention on several questions:
- How can meaningful communication arise via natural processes like evolution or trial and error learning?
- How can honest communication continue despite clear incentives for deception?
- What forces caused the development of linguistic structure like words and grammar?
- Can we develop formal definitions of common linguistic concepts like, semantic meaning, pragmatic implicature, elocutionary force, deception, etc.?
These questions are important for research in a number of different fields. Research utilizing game theory has occurred primarily in philosophy, biology, economics, and, to a lesser extent, psychology.
This course will focus on teaching the formal techniques necessary to understand and contribute to the literature on game theory in communication. The first day will provide some background on game theory and differential equations necessary to understand the literature on communication. The later four days will focus on the application of those methods to problems in communication. Each day will focus on a model or set of models which tackle a different one of the questions above.
In addition to providing the students with a well rounded picture of the methods and problems in this literature, I intend to provide the students with an understanding of the foundational assumptions of the program. This will help them to evaluate both the details and the project as a whole. Beyond issues in communication, this will also provide the students with a foundational understanding of the issues that arise in game theory more generally.
Schedule of all courses