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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Implementing a normative theory of communication in a framework for default reasoning Csinger, Andrew


This thesis presents a framework for inter-agent communication, represented and partially implemented with default reasoning. I focus on the limited goal of determining the meaning for a Hearer-agent of an utterance ω by a Speaker-agent, in terms of the beliefs of the interlocutors. This meaning is generally more than just the explicit propositional contents of ω, and more than just the Speaker's goal to convey her belief that ω. One way of determining this meaning is to let the Hearer take stock of the implicit components of the Speaker's utterances. Among the implicit components of the meaning of ω, I show in particular how to derive certain of its presuppositions with a set of default schemata using a framework for default reasoning. More information can be extracted from the communications channel between interlocutors by adopting a normative model of inter-agent communication, and using this model to explain or 'make sense' of the Speaker's utterances. I construct such a model expressed in terms of a set of default principles of communication using the same framework for default reasoning. The task of deriving the meaning of an utterance is similar to the job required of a user-interface, where the user is the Speaker-agent, and the interface itself is the Hearer-agent. The goal of a user-interface as Hearer is to make maximal use of the data moving along the communications channel between user and application. The result is an integrated theory of normative, inter-agent communications expressed within an ontologically and logically minimal framework. This work demonstrates the development and application of a methodology for the use of default reasoning. The implementation of the theory is also presented, along with a discussion of its applicability to practical user-interfacing. A view emerges of user-modelling as a component of a user-interface.

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