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Computing with Voting Trees

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journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2012, 00:00 authored by Jennifer Iglesias, Nate Ince, Po-Shen Loh

The classical paradox of social choice theory asserts that there is no fair way to deterministically select a winner in an election among more than two candidates; the only definite collective preferences are between individual pairs of candidates. Combinatorially, one may summarize this information with a graph-theoretic tournament on n vertices (one per candidate), placing an edge from u to v if u would beat v in an election between only those two candidates (no ties are permitted). One well-studied procedure for selecting a winner is to specify a complete binary tree whose leaves are labeled by the candidates, and evaluate it by running pairwise elections between the pairs of leaves, sending the winners to successive rounds of pairwise elections which ultimately terminate with a single winner. This structure is called a voting tree.

Much research has investigated which functions on tournaments are computable in this way. Fischer, Procaccia, and Samorodnitsky quantitatively studied the computability of the Copeland rule, which returns a vertex of maximum out-degree in the given tournament. Perhaps surprisingly, the best previously known voting tree could only guarantee a returned out-degree of at least log2 n, despite the fact that every tournament has a vertex of degree at least n−1 2 . In this paper, we present three constructions, the first of which substantially improves this guarantee to Θ(√ n). The other two demonstrate the richness of the voting tree universe, with a tree that resists manipulation, and a tree which implements arithmetic modulo three.


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© 2014, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics



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