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Communication and Cooperation


  • John H. Miller
  • Carter Butts
  • David Rode


Communication plays a vital role in the organization and operation of biological, computational, economic, and social systems. Agents often base their behavior on the signals they receive from others and also recognize the importance of the signals they send. Here we develop a framework for analyzing the emergence of communication in an adaptive system. The framework enables the study of a system composed of agents who evolve the ability to strategically send and receive communication. While the modeling framework is quite general, we focus here on a specific application, namely the analysis of cooperation in a single-shot Prisoner's Dilemma. We find that, contrary to initial expectations, communication allows the emergence of cooperation in such a system. Moreover, we find a systematic relationship between the processing and language complexity inherent in the communication system and the observed behavior. The approach developed here should open up a variety of phenomena to the systematic exploration of endogenous communication.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Miller & Carter Butts & David Rode, 1998. "Communication and Cooperation," Working Papers 98-04-037, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:98-04-037

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stanley, E.A. & Ashlock, Daniel & Tesfatsion, Leigh, 1994. "Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma with Choice and Refusal of Partners," Staff General Research Papers Archive 11180, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Miller, John H., 1996. "The coevolution of automata in the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 87-112, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wiseman, Thomas & Yilankaya, Okan, 2001. "Cooperation, Secret Handshakes, and Imitation in the Prisoners' Dilemma," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 216-242, October.


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