SFI: ‘Confidence Sharing: An Economic Strategy For Efficient Information Flows In Animal Groups’

Amos Korman

SFI News

The Santa Fe Institute will host a seminar, “Confidence Sharing: An Economic Strategy for Efficient Information Flows in Animal Groups” by Amos Korman (CNRS) at 12:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20 in the Collins Conference Room at SFI, 1399 Hyde Park Road in Santa Fe. The SFI host is Michael Lachmann.

Abstract.  Social animals may share information to obtain a more complete and accurate picture of their surroundings. However, physical constraints on communication limit the flow of information between interacting individuals in a way that can cause an accumulation of errors and deteriorated collective behaviors. Here, we theoretically study a general model of information sharing within animal groups.

We take an algorithmic perspective to identify efficient communication schemes that are, nevertheless, economic in terms of communication, memory and individual internal computation. We present a simple algorithm in which each agent compresses all information it has gathered into a single parameter that represents its confidence in its behavior. Confidence is communicated between agents by means of active signaling. We rigorously show that this algorithm competes extremely well with the best possible algorithm that operates without any computational constraints. We also show that this algorithm is minimal, in the sense that further reduction in communication may significantly reduce performances.

Our proofs rely on the Cramer-Rao bound and on our definition of a Fisher Channel Capacity. We use these concepts to quantify information flows within the group and to obtain lower bounds on collective performance. Our results suggest confidence sharing as a central notion in the context of animal communication.

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