Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

A theoretical framework for computer models of cooperative dialogue, acknowledging multi-agent conflict

Julia Rose Galliers

July 1989, 226 pages

DOI: 10.48456/tr-172


This thesis describes a theoretical framework for modelling cooperative dialogue. The linguistic theory is a version of speech act theory adopted from Cohen and Levesque, in which dialogue utterances are generated and interpreted pragmatically in the context of a theory of rational interaction. The latter is expressed as explicitly and formally represented principles of rational agenthood and cooperative interaction. The focus is the development of strategic principles of multi-agent interaction as such a basis for cooperative dialogue. In contrast to the majority of existing work, these acknowledge the positive role of conflict to multi-agent cooperation, and make no assumptions regarding the benevolence and sincerity of agents. The result is a framework wherein agents can resolve conflicts by negotiation. It is a preliminary stage to the future building of computer models of cooperative dialogue for both HCI and DAI, which will therefore be more widely and generally applicable than those currently in existence.

The theory of conflict and cooperation is expressed in the different patterns of mental states which characterise multi-agent conflict, cooperation and indifference as three alternative postural relations. Agents can recognise and potentially create these. Dialogue actions are the strategic tools with which mental states can be manipulated, whilst acknowledging that agents are autonomous over their metal states; they have control over what they acquire and reveal in dialogue. Strategic principles of belief and goal adoption are described in terms of the relationships between autonomous agents’ beliefs, goals, preference and interests, and the relation of these to action. Veracity, mendacity, concealing and revealing are defined as properties of acts. The role of all these elements in reasoning about dialogue action and conflict resolution, is tested in analysis of two example dialogues; a record of a real trade union negotiation and an extract from “Othello” by Shakespeare.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Galliers, Julia Rose},
  title = 	 {{A theoretical framework for computer models of cooperative
         	   dialogue, acknowledging multi-agent conflict}},
  year = 	 1989,
  month = 	 jul,
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  address =	 {15 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0FD, United Kingdom,
          	  phone +44 1223 763500},
  doi = 	 {10.48456/tr-172},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-172}