Abstract: Populations have often been perceived as a structuring component for language to emerge and evolve: the larger the population, the more systematic the language. While this observation is widespread in the sociolinguistic literature, it has not been reproduced in computer simulations with neural agents. In this paper, we thus aim to clarify this apparent contradiction. We explore emergent language properties by varying agent population size in the speaker-listener Lewis Game. After reproducing the experimental paradox, we challenge the simulation assumption that the agent community is homogeneous. We first investigate how speaker-listener asymmetry alters language structure to examine two potential diversity factors: training speed and network capacity. We find out that emergent language properties are only altered by the relative difference of factors between speaker and listener, and not by their absolute values. From then, we leverage this observation to control population heterogeneity without introducing confounding factors. We finally show that introducing such training speed heterogeneities naturally sort out the initial paradox: larger simulated communities start developing more systematic and structured languages.
One-sentence Summary: This paper discusses the role of population heterogeneities in structuring emergent languages, partially resolving an apparent contraction between the psycho-linguistic and AI literature.