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# How to choose a winner : the mathematics of social choice

## Snapshots of modern mathematics from Oberwolfach

Suppose a group of individuals wish to choose among several options, for example electing one of several candidates to a political office or choosing the best contestant in a skating competition. The group might ask: what is the best method for choosing a winner, in the sense that it best reflects the individual preferences of the group members? We will see some examples showing that many voting methods in use around the world can lead to paradoxes and bad outcomes, and we will look at a mathematical model of group decision making. We will discuss* Arrow’s im**possibility theorem*, which says that if there are more than two choices, there is, in a very precise sense, *no *good method for choosing a winner.

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