The University of Edinburgh -
Division of Informatics
Forrest Hill & 80 South Bridge

PhD Thesis #9216

Title:Risk-Taking and Recovery in Task-Oriented Dialogue
Date: 1992
Abstract:The Principle of Parsimony states that by and large, agents try to complete tasks using as little effort as possible. This thesis demonstrates that the Principle of Parsimony operates in human task-oriented dialogue by showing the effects of Parsimony in a corpus of human dialogues about a map navigation task and by using the main points of the analysis in order to guide simulated conversations between two computer agents within the JAM system. It makes four major contributions: - an analysis of "communicative posture", or a range of choices in dialogue which can be characterised by decisions about how much effort to spend constructing one's utterances, leading to either careful or risky behaviour about different aspects of communication, - an analysis of "recovery strategies" which allow the participants to recover from failures which have been brought about due to risky postures, - a heuristic model of belief which risks failing to capture the full meaning of the dialogue in favour of efficiency in a way which simulates human belief updating more plausibly than previous models, and - a layered agent architecture which allows the simulated agents to make all of their decisions based on the Principle of Parsimony.

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