Voting: that can be real chaos!

Dr. Karen Ames Memorial Lectures on Applied Mathematics

Dr. Donald G. Saari

Distinguished Professor, Department of Mathematics and Economics
Director, Institute of Mathematical Behavioral Sciences
University of California - Irvine

15 October 2010

111 Salmon Library
3:00 (Refreshements at 2:30)


We are veterans of voting: in departmental, university, state and federal elections, and event to determine where to have a family vacation or what to name a pet dog. Versions of "voting" are used to decide in engineering, the sciences, and management where "criteria" replace voters. What can be disturbing is that even honest election or decision outcomes need not reflect the true wishes of the voters or the criteria. Why?

Answers come from mathematics where, for instance, concepts from "chaotic dynamics" have been modified to capture the depth of the problem as it will be demonstrated, the problem is far worse than normally expected. Then, it will be show how symmetry structures from mathematics can be used to identify voting/decision rules that do provide reliable outcomes.

colloq SaariBiographical Sketch

Dr. Donald Saari is Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Economics and Director of the Institute of Mathematical Behavioral Sciences, at the University of California, Irvine. He works in the field of dynamical systems and mathematical symmetry structures: applications to mathematical physics, astronomy, voting theory, and the social and behavioral sciences. He has published 11 books and over 180 papers. Dr. Saari received his PhD in Mathematics from Purdue University and Honorary PhDs from several other universities such as Universite de Caen, France and University of Turku, Finland.

Dr. Saari is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and SIAM. He has received the Duncan Black Research Award, the Lester R. Ford Award, Chauvenet Prize, and the Allendoerfer Award. He has been elected to the Councils of AMS and the Social Choice & Welfare Society, and elected as Chair of Board of Trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Berkeley and the US National Committee of Mathematics. He also served on the Board on Mathematical Sciences and its Application of the National Research Council. Dr. Saari was the Chief Editor of the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society and SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis and is Associate Editor on several other journals.