Probabilistic criteria (was Re: [EM] Probabilistic criteria. Participation & no-show.)

Steve Eppley SEppley at
Fri May 5 09:35:35 PDT 2000

Markus S wrote:
> Mike O wrote:
> > Maybe for academic purposes, putting the criteria in terms
> > of probabilities instead of actual winners would be good,
> > because it would make the criteria applicable to probabilistic
> > methods. Because, ideally, it's good to be completely general.
> > But for actual practical purposes, it's more useful to
> > talk about concrete outcomes rather than probabilities. For one
> > thing, I know of no probabilistic method that is in actual use,
> > or which has any significant amount of advocacy for public
> > elections. I've only heard of one person advocating such a
> > method, and he didn't have a proposal, only the suggestion
> > that maybe a good method of that type could someday be found.
> I guess that you are talking about Albert Langer. But remember
> e.g. that Lucien Saumur promotes Smith//RandomCandidate.

All of the procedures for electing candidates to public office 
of which I'm aware being actually used are probabilistic, in the 
sense that ties are possible and when there's a tie a random 
mechanism such as a coin toss is used.  Just because ties would 
be rare doesn't make a procedure deterministic.

It's sensible to speak of "practical compliance" if out-of-
compliance scenarios would be very rare.  But it's nicer to be 
able to speak of complete compliance.

I haven't seen any messages posted by Lucien in years.  Is it 
correct to use the present tense when describing his advocacy?

---Steve     (Steve Eppley    seppley at

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