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Section: Research Program

Experimental cultural knowledge evolution

Cultural evolution applies an idealised version of the theory of evolution to culture. Cultural evolution experiments are performed through multi-agent simulation: a society of agents adapts its culture through a precisely defined protocol [15]: agents perform repeatedly and randomly a specific task, called game, and their evolution is monitored. This aims at discovering experimentally the states that agents reach and the properties of these states.

Experimental cultural evolution has been successfully and convincingly applied to the evolution of natural languages [14], [16]. Agents play language games and adjust their vocabulary and grammar as soon as they are not able to communicate properly, i.e., they misuse a term or they do not behave in the expected way. It showed its capacity to model various such games in a systematic framework and to provide convincing explanations of linguistic phenomena. Such experiments have shown how agents can agree on a colour coding system or a grammatical case system.

We adapt this experimental strategy to knowledge representation [2]. Agents use their, shared or private, knowledge to play games and, in case of failure, they use adaptation operators to modify this knowledge. We monitor the evolution of agent knowledge with respect to its ability to perform the game (success rate) and with respect to the properties satisfied by the resulting knowledge itself. Such properties may, for instance, be:

Our goal is to determine which operators are suitable for achieving desired properties in the context of a particular game.