Strategizing in Communication


Rohit Parikh


City University of New York
Department of Computer Science
365, Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States of America


Monday, 30 December 2013, 11:30 to 12:30



Abstract: We tend to think of communication in terms of the passing of information.  When we say something to someone, we change their knowledge state as well as their beliefs.  The celebrated AGM theory (Alchourron, Gardenfors and Makinson) as well as Dynamic Epistemic Logic follow this pattern.

But an alternate way to look at communication is as a game theoretic move.  We say something to someone because we want them to do something, and the other may guess that we have strategic motives depending on our own payoffs and not necessarily hers.  She may then compensate for our interests and take what we say with a grain of salt.  We on our part may take the salt into account in what we choose to say.

A conversation between a shopkeeper and a customer can take this form.  Both want a sale to take place but disagree on the terms. A certain bluffing by the shopkeeper as to what his costs are, and bluffing by the customer as to what she can afford.

There is work here too, going back to Austin, Searle and Grice as well as to economists Crawford and Sobel.  There is a nice paper by Stalnaker at MIT which we at CUNY have been in the process of developing and we will offer an account of a game theoretic model which resulted from our work.