Value of Communication in Decentralized POMDPs

Alan Carlin and Shlomo Zilberstein. Value of Communication in Decentralized POMDPs. Proceedings of the AAMAS 2009 Workshop on Multi-Agent Sequential Decision Making in Uncertain Domains (MSDM), Budapest, Hungary, 2009.


In decentralized settings with partial observability, agents can often benefit from communicating, but communication resources may be limited and costly. Current approaches tend to dismiss or underestimate this cost, resulting in overcommunication. This paper presents a general framework to compute the value of communicating from each agent's local perspective, by comparing the expected reward with and without communication. In order to obtain these expectations, each agent must reason about the state and belief states of the other agents, both before and after communication. We show how this can be done in the context of decentralized POMDPs and discuss ways to mitigate a common myopic assumption, where agents tend to overcommunicate because they overlook the possibility that communication can be deferred or initiated by the other agents. The paper presents a theoretical framework to precisely quantify the value of communication and an effective algorithm to manage communication. Experimental results show that our approach performs well compared to other techniques suggested in the literature.

Bibtex entry:

  author	= {Alan Carlin and Shlomo Zilberstein},
  title		= {Value of Communication in Decentralized {POMDP}s},
  booktitle     = {Proceedings of the {AAMAS} Workshop on Multi-Agent Sequential
                   Decision Making in Uncertain Domains},
  year		= {2009},
  pages		= {},
  address       = {Budapest, Hungary},
  url		= {}
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