Oral
A Statistical Decision-Theoretic Framework for Social Choice
Hossein Azari Soufiani · David Parkes · Lirong Xia

Thu Dec 11th 11:40 AM -- 12:00 PM @ Level 2, room 210

In this paper, we take a statistical decision-theoretic viewpoint on social choice, putting a focus on the decision to be made on behalf of a system of agents. In our framework, we are given a statistical ranking model, a decision space, and a loss function defined on (parameter, decision) pairs, and formulate social choice mechanisms as decision rules that minimize expected loss. This suggests a general framework for the design and analysis of new social choice mechanisms. We compare Bayesian estimators, which minimize Bayesian expected loss, for the Mallows model and the Condorcet model respectively, and the Kemeny rule. We consider various normative properties, in addition to computational complexity and asymptotic behavior. In particular, we show that the Bayesian estimator for the Condorcet model satisfies some desired properties such as anonymity, neutrality, and monotonicity, can be computed in polynomial time, and is asymptotically different from the other two rules when the data are generated from the Condorcet model for some ground truth parameter.

Author Information

Hossein Azari Soufiani (Harvard University)
David Parkes (Harvard University)

David C. Parkes is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. He was the recipient of the NSF Career Award, the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the Thouron Scholarship and the Harvard University Roslyn Abramson Award for Teaching. Parkes received his Ph.D. degree in Computer and Information Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, and an M.Eng. (First class) in Engineering and Computing Science from Oxford University in 1995. At Harvard, Parkes leads the EconCS group and teaches classes in artificial intelligence, optimization, and topics at the intersection between computer science and economics. Parkes has served as Program Chair of ACM EC’07 and AAMAS’08 and General Chair of ACM EC’10, served on the editorial board of Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, and currently serves as Editor of Games and Economic Behavior and on the boards of Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems and INFORMS Journal of Computing. His research interests include computational mechanism design, electronic commerce, stochastic optimization, preference elicitation, market design, bounded rationality, computational social choice, networks and incentives, multi-agent systems, crowd-sourcing and social computing.

Lirong Xia (RPI)

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