A Psychological Model of Grounding and Repair in Dialog

Janet E. Cahn and Susan E. Brennan

We formalize and extend the contribution model of Clark and Schaefer (1987, 1989) so that it can be represented computationally; we then present a method for combining the turns of two individual agents into one incrementally determined, coherent representation of the processes of dialog. This representation is intended to approximate what a participant might represent about the dialog so far, for the immediate purpose of referring, making contextual inferences, and repairing problems of understanding, as well as for the longer term purpose of storing the products of dialog in memory. Such an approach, we argue, is necessary for enabling a computer-based partner to converse in a way that seems natural to a human partner.


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