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Conference Papers Year : 2022

On Meritocracy in Optimal Set Selection


Typically, merit is defined with respect to some intrinsic measure of worth. We instead consider a setting where an individual’s worth is relative: when a decision maker (DM) selects a set of individuals from a population to maximise expected utility, it is natural to consider the expected marginal contribution (EMC) of each person to the utility. We show that this notion satisfies an axiomatic definition of fairness for this setting. We also show that for certain policy structures, this notion of fairness is aligned with maximising expected utility, while for linear utility functions it is identical to the Shapley value. However, for certain natural policies, such as those that select individuals with a specific set of attributes (e.g. high enough test scores for college admissions), there is a trade-off between meritocracy and utility maximisation. We analyse the effect of constraints on the policy on both utility and fairness in an extensive experiments based on college admissions and outcomes in Norwegian universities.

Dates and versions

hal-03445971 , version 1 (24-11-2021)


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Thomas Kleine Buening, Meirav Segal, Debabrota Basu, Anne-Marie George, Christos Dimitrakakis. On Meritocracy in Optimal Set Selection. EAAMO 2022- Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms, and Optimization, ACM, Oct 2022, Arlington, United States. ⟨hal-03445971⟩
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