Consensus formation is investigated for multi-agent systems in which agents’ beliefs are both vague and uncertain. Vagueness is represented by a third truth state meaning borderline. This is combined with a probabilistic model of uncertainty. A belief combination operator is then proposed, which exploits borderline truth values to enable agents with conflicting beliefs to reach a compromise. A number of simulation experiments are carried out, in which agents apply this operator in pairwise interactions, under the bounded confidence restriction that the two agents’ beliefs must be sufficiently consistent with each other before agreement can be reached. As well as studying the consensus operator in isolation, we also investigate scenarios in which agents are influenced either directly or indirectly by the state of the world. For the former, we conduct simulations that combine consensus formation with belief updating based on evidence. For the latter, we investigate the effect of assuming that the closer an agent’s beliefs are to the truth the more visible they are in the consensus building process. In all cases, applying the consensus operators results in the population converging to a single shared belief that is both crisp and certain. Furthermore, simulations that combine consensus formation with evidential updating converge more quickly to a shared opinion, which is closer to the actual state of the world than those in which beliefs are only changed as a result of directly receiving new evidence. Finally, if agent interactions are guided by belief quality measured as similarity to the true state of the world, then applying the consensus operator alone results in the population converging to a high-quality shared belief.
- opinion pooling
- multi-agent systems