A Penny for Your Thoughts: The Value of Communication in Ad Hoc Teamwork (2020)
Reuth Mirsky, William Macke, Andy Wang, Harel Yedidsion, and Peter Stone
In ad hoc teamwork, multiple agents need to collaborate without having knowledge about their teammates or their plans a priori. A common assumption in this research area is that the agents cannot communicate. However, just as two random people may speak the same language, autonomous teammates may also happen to share a communication protocol. This paper considers how such a shared protocol can be leveraged, introducing a means to reason about Communication in Ad Hoc Teamwork (CAT). The goal of this work is enabling improved ad hoc teamwork by judiciously leveraging the ability of the team to communicate. We situate our study within a novel CAT scenario, involving tasks with multiple steps, where teammates' plans are unveiled over time. In this context, the paper proposes methods to reason about the timing and value of communication and introduces an algorithm for an ad hoc agent to leverage these methods. Finally, we introduces a new multiagent domain, the tool fetching domain, and we study how varying this domain's properties affects the usefulness of communication. Empirical results show the benefits of explicit reasoning about communication content and timing in ad hoc teamwork.
In Proceedings of the 29th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Yokohama, Japan, January 2020.

Peter Stone Faculty pstone [at] cs utexas edu
Harel Yedidsion Postdoctoral Fellow harel [at] cs utexas edu