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Evolution of a Simple Compositional Language Using Animat-Based Modeling and Simulation


Human communication has features, such as syntax, unseen in any other form of animal communication. How did we come to use such a sophisticated form of communication? This paper addresses the issue of the origin of compositionality in languages using animat-based modeling. In the simulation, 100 software agents controlled by neural networks are given the ability to communicate with each other using sequences of signals. These agents---called animats---play communication games with each other, and if they are among the most effective communicators, they mate and produce offspring. Through evolution and learning, animats developed languages that exhibit some rudimentary compositionality in simple environment settings, but under more sophisticated environments, they struggled to establish effective protocols of communication. Results suggested that simple recurrent neural networks allowed animats to develop languages with rudimentary compositionality, and that imitation learning helped animats come to consensus on usage of signals.

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