[EM] A Metric for Issue/Candidate Space

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Thu Dec 10 18:18:18 PST 2020

See comments inline ..

On Thursday, December 10, 2020, Kevin Venzke <stepjak at yahoo.fr> wrote:

> Hi Forest, max distance between any pair of points (I call it the "broad"
> measure) at least wouldn't make much difference with 3 candidates. I tried
> it with 4 candidates and it seemed to behave very similarly.
> I can somewhat rationalize minimizing a candidate's distance from the
> candidate who beat him. Assuming two candidates A and B might both be able
> to win, ignoring a win of one over the other seems less risky when A/B are
> similar than when they are different. It should be less aggravating to
> those who are overruled.
> I find it harder to rationalize penalizing a candidate A for being
> defeated by two different candidates B/C that are different from each other
> but less different from A. In that case one intuitively wonders if A is
> spatially between B/C.

A would be somewhere roughly between B and C, which would make it more
likely for A to be the CW, and the diameter smaller, which should correlate
... small diameter <--> A wins.

> I also tried defining distances using the entire ballot (i.e. interpret
> ranks as grades and infer distances from these, no fractional counting) and
> that's certainly somewhat different. I'm not sure what kind of theoretical
> merit or deficiency there is in setting distances in various ways.
> (Naturally the best would be to determine them outside of the method, but
> that doesn't leave much of a method to study.)

Making distance strictly proportional to distance in rank would introduce
the same distortion that Borda exhibits visa vis Range. But even using
range scores in this way is a distortion: if A and B are both rated top,
then fine ... the rsting difference of zer reflects the likely proximity of
the candidates.  But if both are rated zero, they could be anywhere on the
perimeter of the set of candidates  For example, the ranking

A>> B =C

could mean A is near the center of a circle, while  B and C are on opposite
ends of a diameterr of that circle. They are both enemies of A but not
friends of eachother.

Thanks for helping to clarify these confusing details!


> Kevin
> Le mercredi 9 décembre 2020 à 00:30:47 UTC−6, Forest Simmons <
> fsimmons at pcc.edu> a écrit :
> Kevin,
> Great ..thanks for incorporating it into your analyses!
> My intended definition of diameter was simply the max distance between any
> pair of points in the set ... as in metric spaces:-)
> It would be interesting to see if that makes any difference.
> For your similations no harm in inferring the distances from the rankings,
> but I think it would be more accurate to start with  points distributed in
> a plane with some of them designated as candidates. Then use the distances
> to calculate the rankings as in a Yee diagram. Clone sets should be
> relatively small in diameter compared to other distances.
> In actual practice the reason for estimating distances independently from
> preferences is for political neutrality ... saying that x and y are far
> apart or close together does not tell directly which you prefer.  Two
> voters of opposite persuasions could theoretically come up with identical
> distance estimates for all pairs of candidates. It seems like that should
> reduce manipulation somewhat if not altogether.
> Also when preference changes do not directly affect distance estimates it
> is harder to create a monotonicity violation.
> Here's my "proof" of monotonicity: raise winner X in the rankings ... that
> doesn't change the diameter of S(X) .  And it changes the diameter of S(Y)
> only by augmenting S(Y) with X which increases the diameter of S(Y), which
> reinforces X's win.
> Here is my argument for clone winner: replace the winner X with clone set
> C say . Then S(C) is contained in S(X) union C.  So diameter of S(C) is
> greater than  diameter of S(X) only if for some Y, the distance d(X,Y) is
> equal to the diameter of  S(X).
> And in that case the diameter of S(C) is no greater than S(X) +
> diameter(C) which is very close to S(X) since a true clone set is small in
> diameter compared the absolute difference between the diameters of S(X) and
> S(Z), say.
> I could clean that up, but you get the idea.
> Clone loser: if loser Y is replaced with a clone set C, then S(C) is at
> least as large as S(Y). But can this enlarge S(X)?  The only chance of this
> is if X is pairwise beaten by Y, and at least one member of C increases the
> diameter of S(Y), which cannot happen by more than an infinitesimal if C is
> a true clone set. And the difference between diamS(Y) and diamS(X) is a
> non-infinitesimal positive number.
> So if you define true clone sets as having (relatively) infinitesimal
> diameter, the method is clone independent. Otherwise we say, as for Range
> Voting, the method is marginally clone free.
> I hope that makes sense!
> Forest
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