[EM] Successful talk on election methods

Alex Small alex_small2002 at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 2 00:24:32 PST 2004

On Monday I gave a talk on the mathematics of election methods to about a dozen of my colleagues.  There's a journal club of physics grad students who normally meet to discuss topics in biophysics, solid state physics, and materials science.  This week they decided to have a talk on voting, in honor of the election.  I've been to one or two of their meetings and am the only person in my department (to the best of my knowledge) with a strong interest in the subject.
The talk was oriented more toward academics than activism, so I didn't hit hard on the IRV vs. approval controversy, but I gave approval voting a favorable review compared with IRV, and it was well received.  They asked some good questions.  I didn't wade into the controversy over whether IRV is worth supporting as a replacement for plurality, because I didn't think it was the right forum.  I wanted to get to subjects like Arrow's theorem, the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem, my ongoing work on strong FBC, how the dimensionality of issue space affects Condorcet cycles, and the electoral college.  I also gave an overview of commonly discussed voting methods and basic issues of races with 3 or more candidates.  I gave a plug for both of the mailing lists that I'm sending this to.
If anybody wants to use some of my slides to give a similar talk, let me know.  It was fun putting this talk together because I realized just how much I've learned since I started exploring these issues 4 years ago, and how much even we amateurs can understand just by giving it a little thought.
Alex Small

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