AM. Arrow's Theorem

Can A be better than B, B be better than C and C be better than A? No voting system will ever be fair!

1 Comment »

  1. strauss said,

    March 16, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    I have to share a story about this; about six months before we aired this segment on the radio, I attended a City of Fayetteville meeting, at which about thirty of my neighbors were discussing various plans for rerouting a street that runs near my house. There were three plans on the table.

    Someone sensibly suggested we should take a straw poll, to see how people stood on the matter; but then things went bad: the discussion began to turn on how to count the results. Should the winning plan be the one favored as #1 by the most people?

    Should the winning plan be the one not ranked #3? Should we have a run-off between the plans getting the most #1 votes? Etc.

    After about twenty minutes of this, I had a chance to speak. Tempers were running high. I foolishly began “I’m a mathematician and Arrow’s theorem says…” I was hooted down before I got any further.

    Apparently, no one was in the mood to hear what Arrow’s Theorem said!

    Debate went on, and who knows what scheme was finally chosen for the poll. My opponents’ proposal, though, was the winning plan for the street. In the end it was all irrelevant— all the proposals were too expensive.

    But the Math Factor airs weekly on a popular local radio show; I hoped that some of my neighbors heard this segment and wished they’d let the mathematician speak!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The Math Factor Podcast Website

Quality Math Talk Since 2004, on the web and on KUAF 91.3 FM

A production of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark USA

Download a great math factor poster to print and share!

Got an idea? Want to do a guest post? Tell us about it!

Heya! Do us a favor and link here from your site!