Communicating Semantics: Reference by Description


Messages often refer to entities such as people, places and events. Correct identification of the intended reference is an essential part of communication. Lack of shared unique names often complicates entity reference. Shared knowledge can be used to construct uniquely identifying descriptive references for entities with ambiguous names. We introduce a mathematical model for `Reference by Description', derive results on the conditions under which, with high probability, programs can construct unambiguous references to most entities in the domain of discourse and provide empirical validation of these results.