Computer Science Distinguished Colloquium

Monday, November 8, 2021 at 10:00am to 11:00am

Computer Science Building, CS 209
500 W. 15th St., Rolla, MO 65409

CS Distinguished Colloquium
Monday, November 8, 2021 @ 10 am CST (Passcode: 1234)

Nonlinear Opinion Dynamics for Decision Making in Multi-agent Interactions

Naomi Ehrich Leonard
Edwin S. Wilsey Professor
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Princeton University


I will discuss a recently proposed model of opinion dynamics and its use in decision making for multi-agent cooperative and strategic interactions. The model describes continuous-time opinion dynamics for an arbitrary number of agents that communicate over a network and form real-valued opinions on an arbitrary number of options about which they may receive payoffs or input from the environment. Many models in the literature update agent opinions using a weighted average of their neighbors’ opinions. This model instead applies a sigmoidal saturation function to opinion exchanges, which provides a naturally smooth limit on the influence of neighbors. It also makes the update fundamentally nonlinear: opinions form through a bifurcation yielding multistable agreement and disagreement, tunable sensitivity to input, flexible transition between patterns of opinions, and opinion cascades. I will show how to apply the opinion dynamics to design of efficient dynamic multi-agent task allocation and as a model of reinforcement learning in multi-agent finite games.

This is joint work with Anastasia Bizyaeva, Alessio Franci, and Shinkyu Park and based on papers,, and


Dr. Naomi Ehrich Leonard is Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and associated faculty in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. She is also Director of Princeton’s Council on Science and Technology and Editor of the Annual Review of Control, Robotics, and Autonomous Systems. She received her BSE in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University and her PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. She is a MacArthur Fellow, elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Fellow of SIAM, IEEE, IFAC, and ASME. Her current research focuses on dynamics and control of multi-agent systems on networks with application to distributed decision making, spreading processes, multi-robot teams, and collective behavior.





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