[EM] Joe: "Many kinds of bias"?

Joseph Malkevitch malkevitch at york.cuny.edu
Wed Jan 24 06:18:31 PST 2007

Dear Mike,

On Jan 24, 2007, at 3:35 AM, Michael Ossipoff wrote:

> Joe says:
> When it comes to bias, there are many different kinds of bias that  
> one might
> talk about and differing ways to measure that bias. Calling  
> something "bias
> free" does not shed extra light without more insights.
> I reply:
> What kind of insights does Joe want?

By way of analogy, the kind of insight that Huntington offered in  
showing that Huntington-Hill minimized differences between 16  
measures involving a(i)  where a(i) is the number of seats given  
state i and p(i) is its population, in a relative sense under  
transfer of a seat between a pair of states. For Webster, the  
absolute difference a(i)/p(i) - a(j)/p(j)  is optimized while for  
Dean p(j)/a(j) - p(i)/a(i) is optimized. For me, this gives an  
insight into the difference between Huntington-Hill and Dean. (See  
page 102 of Balinski and Young.)

> I provided a definition of bias, and
> pointed out that it's the definition that no one would disagree  
> with. But of
> course I invite Joe to disagree with it if he wants to.
> Joe says that there are many different kinds of bias that one might  
> talk
> about, but Joe forgot to talk about any of them. So, Joe, wouild  
> you be
> willing to name at least one different kind of bias, and tell why it
> justifies giving the largest states (as defined in my most recent  
> post) more
> s/q than the smallest states?
> As for how to measure the bias empiricallly, of course that  
> question has to
> be postponed till after a bias definiltion has been agreed-upon.
> What Joe has been saying, all along, about bias seems to be, "Bias  
> is so
> difficult to define, so many different competing definitions for it  
> that we
> should throw up our hands and disregard it, and concentrate instead on
> something else like transfer properties (and give Hill a free pass  
> on its
> bias).

Here is your definition:

> 1. We’re talking about a hypothetical country that has arbitrarily  
> many states.
> 2. “The largest states” means an arbitrarily large number of states  
> at the top end.
> 3. “The smallest states” are defined similarly.

Suppose the "the largest states" which are equal or nearly equal in  
population have 12 percent of the total population, and the "smallest  
states" which are equal or nearly equal in population have 88 percent  
of the population. Also consider many other variants of this type of  
situation, both in the presence and absence of giving states some  
initial distribution of seats, say 1, as required by the  
Constitution. The house size is a variable here.

I am not trying to give any particular method a "free pass." I am  
trying to understand complex phenomena.



> Mike Ossipoff
> ----
> election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for  
> list info

Joseph Malkevitch
Department of Mathematics
York College (CUNY)
Jamaica, New York 11451

Phone: 718-262-2551 (Voicemail available)

My new email is:

malkevitch at york.cuny.edu

web page:


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