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Making Better Group Decisions: Voting, Judgement Aggregation and Fair Division

University of Maryland, College Park via Coursera

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Overview

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Much of our daily life is spent taking part in various types of what we might call “political” procedures. Examples range from voting in a national election to deliberating with others in small committees. Many interesting philosophical and mathematical issues arise when we carefully examine our group decision-making processes. 

There are two types of group decision making problems that we will discuss in this course. A voting problem: Suppose that a group of friends are deciding where to go for dinner. If everyone agrees on which restaurant is best, then it is obvious where to go. But, how should the friends decide where to go if they have different opinions about which restaurant is best? Can we always find a choice that is “fair” taking into account everyone’s opinions or must we choose one person from the group to act as a “dictator”? A fair division problem: Suppose that there is a cake and a group of hungry children. Naturally, you want to cut the cake and distribute the pieces to the children as fairly as possible. If the cake is homogeneous (e.g., a chocolate cake with vanilla icing evenly distributed), then it is easy to find a fair division: give each child a piece that is the same size. But, how do we find a “fair” division of the cake if it is heterogeneous (e.g., icing that is 1/3 chocolate, 1/3 vanilla and 1/3 strawberry) and the children each want different parts of the cake? 

Syllabus

Week 1:  Voting Methods
    The Voting Problem
    A Quick Introduction to Voting Methods (e.g., Plurality Rule, Borda Count,  
          Plurality with Runoff, The Hare System, Approval Voting)    
    Preferences
    The Condorcet Paradox
    How Likely is the Condorcet Paradox?
    Condorcet Consistent Voting Methods
    Approval Voting
    Combining Approval and Preference
    Voting by Grading

Week 2: Voting Paradoxes
    Choosing How to Choose
    Condorcet's Other Paradox
    Should the Condorcet Winner be Elected?
    Failures of Monotonicity
    Multiple-Districts Paradox
    Spoiler Candidates and Failures of Independence
    Failures of Unanimity
    Optimal Decisions or Finding Compromise?
    Finding a Social Ranking vs. Finding a Winner

Week 3: Characterizing Voting Methods
    Classifying Voting Methods
    The Social Choice Model
    Anonymity, Neutrality and Unanimity
    Characterizing Majority Rule
    Characterizing Voting Methods
    Five Characterization Results
    Distance-Based Characterizations of Voting Methods
    Arrow's Theorem
    Proof of Arrow's Theorem
    Variants of Arrow's Theorem

Week 4: Topics in Social Choice Theory
    Introductory Remarks
    Domain Restrictions: Single-Peakedness
    Sen’s Value Restriction
    Strategic Voting
    Manipulating Voting Methods
    Lifting Preferences
    The Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem
    Sen's Liberal Paradox

Week 5: Aggregating Judgements
    Voting in Combinatorial Domains
    Anscombe's Paradox
    Multiple Elections Paradox
    The Condorcet Jury Theorem
    Paradoxes of Judgement Aggregation
    The Judgement Aggregation Model
    Properties of Aggregation Methods
    Impossibility Results in Judgement Aggregation
    Proof of the Impossibility Theorem(s)

Week 6: Fair Division 
    Introduction to Fair Division
    Fairness Criteria
    Efficient and Envy-Free Divisions
    Finding an Efficient and Envy Free Division
    Help the Worst Off or Avoid Envy?
    The Adjusted Winner Procedure
    Manipulating the Adjusted Winner Outcome

Week 7:  Cake-Cutting Algorithms
   The Cake Cutting Problem
   Cut and Choose
   Equitable and Envy-Free Proocedures
   Proportional Procedures
   The Stromquist Procedure
   The Selfridge-Conway Procedure
   Concluding Remarks

Taught by

Eric Pacuit

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