Learning to Elect

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Cem Anil, Xuchan Bao


Voting systems have a wide range of applications including recommender systems, web search, product design and elections. Limited by the lack of general-purpose analytical tools, it is difficult to hand-engineer desirable voting rules for each use case. For this reason, it is appealing to automatically discover voting rules geared towards each scenario. In this paper, we show that set-input neural network architectures such as Set Transformers, fully-connected graph networks and DeepSets are both theoretically and empirically well-suited for learning voting rules. In particular, we show that these network models can not only mimic a number of existing voting rules to compelling accuracy --- both position-based (such as Plurality and Borda) and comparison-based (such as Kemeny, Copeland and Maximin) --- but also discover near-optimal voting rules that maximize different social welfare functions. Furthermore, the learned voting rules generalize well to different voter utility distributions and election sizes unseen during training.