[EM] Richard, re: Nash equilibrium for voting systems

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 19 13:13:46 PDT 2002

I hope this posts better than it appears on this screen, with
the lines messed up.

I'd said:

                > I know that Richard questioned the meaningfulness of that
                > equilibrium, because it sounds like bloc voting.

Richard replied:

[Where F is the number of factions, and each faction is treated
as a player because each faction votes unanimously]

                I have no objection to the definition that produces exactly 
                players, but simply want to emphasize that it is only one of 
                multitude of ways the set of players can be defined. I don't
                hold that it isn't a valid approach for certain theoretical
                explorations, especially given its simplicity. I would only
                object to the idea that this definition is useful in 
                public elections, where many if not most voters will 
                independently from the rest of their factions.

I reply:

The objection stated in that last sentence is the one that I'm
talking about. Saying that many voters won't vote exactly the
same as others in their faction misses the point here.

My point
is that if, with a certain votes configuration and outcome, some
voters can improve the outcome for themselves by changing their
vote, then that existing votes configuration and outcome
is obviously unstable.

You can say that calling it an equilibrium if no same-voting, same
sincere ranking
group can improve on it for themselves is overlenient, but that doesn't 
the fact that, with the margins methods, there are situations
(configurations of candidates and voters' sincere rankings) where
, even with that lenient definition, the only equilibria are
ones in which defensive order-reversal is used.

Margins advocates can't finesse their way out of this.

Besides, even with Blake's most unlenient equilibrium definition,
Condorcet(wv) and Approval, when there's a CW, always have
equilibria in which the CW wins and no one order-reverses.

So, whichever equilibrium definition you use, margins is the
method that fails by sometimes having no equilibria in which
defensive order-reversal isn't used.

By the way, I disagree when Richard calls Blake's definition
a definition of Nash equilibrium. Blake's definition may have
uses, but it certainly isn't a definition of Nash equilibrium.
It  violates the intent of Nash equilibrium. Nash's
definition speaks of one person changing his vote. If Nash had
meant any set of people with different sincere rankings and different
current strategies, then he would have said that. You could say
we're overextending Nash's definition by letting more than 1 voter
change their votes, but we change it beyond recognition if we
have different-voting voters with different sincere rankings all
change their vote.

The part of Richard's message quoted above is the part that
I'm replying to. Though I don't reply to the preceding part of
that message, I'm copying it below:

Mike Ossipoff

                I don't remember what I wrote about this. I might have
                its practical meaning, but certainly in a theoretical
                like Alex's Small Voting Machine, it is useful (with the
                modification by Alex, because utilities are only needed for
                probabilistic strategies).

                But there are many ways you could define an election as a
                depending on who you consider the players to be. And
                the players are defined by how well groups are able to 
                their strategies.

                If V is the number of voters, and F is the number of 
                factions (per Alex's definition), then you could have many
                possibilities for the number of independent players, P:

                If the voters are unable to coordinate their strategies at 
                then you have P = V.

                (It's been pointed out that there would be a heck of a lot 
                Nash equilibria with this many players, since in almost any
                circumstance except a near tie, no single voter can change 
                outcome. However, you could focus on those Nash equilibria 
                are the most stable, in the sense of how large a factor 
would be
                needed, if you exaggerated the power of a given voter by 
                factor, to allow the voter to influence the outcome by 
                alone. I don't have a formal definition for this measure of
                stability, and haven't really thought it through, but 
                you get the general idea.)

                If each faction is 100% coordinated (100% of its members are
                informed of the strategy and can be relied on to participate 
                that strategy), then you have P = F (each faction is a 

                If several subgroups within each faction are internally 
                but there is no coordination between the subgroups, then you 
                F < P < V.

                If two or more factions with similar but not identical 
                can coordinate a strategy between themselves, that is better
                for each than each faction can accomplish alone, those 
                would form a single player. In such a case you could have P 
< F.

                If I understand Mike's paraphrase of Blake's definition, it
                would apply to any possible combination. For example, two of 
                subsets of faction A (A1 and A2) will team with subset B1 of
                faction B to form a strategy, while group A3 teams with B2, 
                at the same time each subset of faction C (C1, C2, and C3) 
                a different strategy. This would lead to a valid definition 
of a
                Nash equilibrium for that configuration in that election.

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