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Discrete Math: Social Choice
Social choice is an area of discrete mathematics that includes apportionment
and voting methods. Apportionment refers to assigning representatives based
on the relative sizes of a larger group. Consider this example:
There are ten student council representatives and 30 freshmen, 20 sophomores,
20 juniors, and 30 seniors. When representatives are assigned, larger groups
should have more representation. Here, the freshmen and seniors would have
three representatives each and the sophomores and juniors would have two
representatives each, with one representative the equivalent of 10 students.
Very rarely do the numbers work out so nicely in real apportionment situations.
The problems below are more realistic and look at a variety of apportionment
algorithms.
Voting methods are also included here as a social choice topic. One person, one
vote is a common voting method, but there are other methods such as the Borda
count, sequential runoff, and Condorcet methods. Several of the following
problems are based on various voting methods.
For background information elsewhere on our site, explore the
High School Discrete
Math area of the Ask Dr. Math archives. To find relevant
sites on the Web, browse and search
Discrete Mathematics
in our Internet Mathematics Library.
Access to these problems requires a Membership.

The 2000 Olympics
 Leigh Nataro

Discrete Math, difficulty level 4. Use the Borda count method of voting to see which country will host the Olympics.
... more>>

An Apportionment Problem
 James Greene

Discrete Math, difficulty level 4. Students apportion the representatives in their class using the Hamilton method of apportionment.
... more>>

The Council of Nations
 Leigh Nataro

Discrete Math, difficulty level 4. Use the Webster method of apportionment to divide up the seats for a council of nations.
... more>>

First Presidential Veto
 William Bowdish

Discrete Math, difficulty level 4. This problem involves the Jefferson, Adams, and Webster apportionment methods.
... more>>

Homework and Candy
 Leigh Nataro

Discrete Math, difficulty level 1. Use the Hamilton method to apportion candy among three children.
... more>>

Let's Vote
 Leigh Nataro

Discrete Math, difficulty level 3. Create preference schedules that have different winners using the plurality and Borda count methods of voting.
... more>>

Voting on Survivor
 Leigh Nataro

Discrete Math, difficulty level 2. Using a modified Borda count method, figure out how many people voted for each preference schedule to produce a tie.
... more>>

A Voting Problem
 Leslie Johnson Nielsen

Discrete Math, difficulty level 2. Election theory: investigate the concept of plurality in voting and discuss its fairness.
... more>>

Will It Be Pumpkin Pie?
 Leigh Nataro

Discrete Math, difficulty level 4. Based on voting coalitions and power indices, who has more power in deciding what will be served for dessert?
... more>>
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