Social adaptation in multi-agent model of linguistic categorization is affected by network information flow

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 15;12(8):e0182490. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182490. eCollection 2017.


This paper explores how information flow properties of a network affect the formation of categories shared between individuals, who are communicating through that network. Our work is based on the established multi-agent model of the emergence of linguistic categories grounded in external environment. We study how network information propagation efficiency and the direction of information flow affect categorization by performing simulations with idealized network topologies optimizing certain network centrality measures. We measure dynamic social adaptation when either network topology or environment is subject to change during the experiment, and the system has to adapt to new conditions. We find that both decentralized network topology efficient in information propagation and the presence of central authority (information flow from the center to peripheries) are beneficial for the formation of global agreement between agents. Systems with central authority cope well with network topology change, but are less robust in the case of environment change. These findings help to understand which network properties affect processes of social adaptation. They are important to inform the debate on the advantages and disadvantages of centralized systems.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Information Services*
  • Linguistics*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Social Adjustment*

Grants and funding

This study was financed by Polish National Science Centre ( grant number 2015/16/T/ST6/00493 to JZ and grant numbers 2014/15/B/ST6/05082 and 2013/09/B/NZ2/00121 to DP. JZ was co-supported by the research fellowship within Project “Information technologies: Research and their interdisciplinary applications” within Human Capital Operational Programme financed by European Social Fund (, agreement number UDA POKL.04.01.01-00-051/10-00. This work was co-supported by the Foundation for Polish Science (TEAM to DP). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.