DFG-Project: Distances in Voting

The goal of the project, which has been funded by the DFG since 2017, is the systematic investigation of ‘Distances in Elections’. Within the framework of the project, which is located in theoretical computer science and funded with a total of 285,000 euros (two-year funding period), distances in elections are to be investigated in three ways. First, distances in elections of individual candidates will be investigated.

Second, distances in committee elections will be examined. Among other things, the question will be whether and to what extent election rules based on distances in single-candidate elections can be extended to committee elections. Thirdly, we will look at different forms of influence in elections, both those that elect a single candidate and those that elect by committee. A focus here will be on bribery and manipulation.

Elections play a central role in very different areas. On the one hand, in political elections and other voting processes, but also increasingly in the field of artificial intelligence, where algorithms automatically choose between a large number of options. We already encounter these mechanisms today, for example in automatic recommendation systems that recommend products based on online purchases that are as close as possible to the buyer’s preference. However, due to the increasing use of the Internet, these processes will also become relevant for online voting processes in the future.

The project is led by Dorothea Baumeister. She has been a junior professor of theoretical computer science (focus: computational social choice) at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf since 2013. In her research, she focuses on axiomatic and complexity-theoretic analysis in the areas of preference aggregation, joint judgment, and distributional problems. We congratulate Dorothea Baumeister on this success and are excited to see what insights will be unearthed in the next two years.