Journal of Logic, Language and Information

, Volume 25, Issue 3–4, pp 379–397

Compositional Signaling in a Complex World

Article

Abstract

Natural languages are compositional in that the meaning of complex expressions depends on those of the parts and how they are put together. Here, I ask the following question: why are languages compositional? I answer this question by extending Lewis–Skyrms signaling games with a rudimentary form of compositional signaling and exploring simple reinforcement learning therein. As it turns out: in complex worlds, having compositional signaling helps simple agents learn to communicate. I am also able to show that learning the meaning of a function word, once meanings of atomic words are known, presents no difficulty.

Keywords

Signaling games Compositionality Reinforcement learning Evolution Negation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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