The distortion of cardinal preferences in voting

Ariel D. Procaccia*, Jeffrey S. Rosenschein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The theoretical guarantees provided by voting have distinguished it as a prominent method of preference aggregation among autonomous agents. However, unlike humans, agents usually assign each candidate an exact utility, whereas an election is resolved based solely on each voter's linear ordering of candidates. In essence, the agents' cardinal (utility-based) preferences are embedded into the space of ordinal preferences. This often gives rise to a distortion in the preferences, and hence in the social welfare of the outcome. In this paper, we formally define and analyze the concept of distortion. We fully characterize the distortion under different restrictions imposed on agents' cardinal preferences; both possibility and strong impossibility results are established. We also tackle some computational aspects of calculating the distortion. Ultimately, we argue that, whenever voting is applied in a multiagent system, distortion must be a pivotal consideration.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationCooperative Information Agents X - 10th International Workshop, CIA 2006. Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)354038569X, 9783540385691
StatePublished - 2006
Event10th International Workshop on Cooperative Information Agents, CIA 2006 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sep 200613 Sep 2006

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume4149 LNAI
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference10th International Workshop on Cooperative Information Agents, CIA 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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