On the Relationship between Zipf’s Law of Abbreviation and Interfering Noise in Emergent Languages

Ryo Ueda, Koki Washio


Abstract
This paper studies whether emergent languages in a signaling game follow Zipf’s law of abbreviation (ZLA), especially when the communication ability of agents is limited because of interfering noises. ZLA is a well-known tendency in human languages where the more frequently a word is used, the shorter it will be. Surprisingly, previous work demonstrated that emergent languages do not obey ZLA at all when neural agents play a signaling game. It also reported that a ZLA-like tendency appeared by adding an explicit penalty on word lengths, which can be considered some external factors in reality such as articulatory effort. We hypothesize, on the other hand, that there might be not only such external factors but also some internal factors related to cognitive abilities. We assume that it could be simulated by modeling the effect of noises on the agents’ environment. In our experimental setup, the hidden states of the LSTM-based speaker and listener were added with Gaussian noise, while the channel was subject to discrete random replacement. Our results suggest that noise on a speaker is one of the factors for ZLA or at least causes emergent languages to approach ZLA, while noise on a listener and a channel is not.
Anthology ID:
2021.acl-srw.6
Volume:
Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 11th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing: Student Research Workshop
Month:
August
Year:
2021
Address:
Online
Venues:
ACL | IJCNLP
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
60–70
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2021.acl-srw.6
DOI:
10.18653/v1/2021.acl-srw.6
Bibkey:
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2021.acl-srw.6.pdf