Vote Elicitation: Complexity and Strategy-Proofness

Vincent Conitzer and Tuomas Sandholm, Carnegie Mellon University

Preference elicitation is a central problem in AI, and has received significant attention in single-agent settings. It is also a key problem in multiagent systems, but has received little attention here so far. In this setting, the agents may have different preferences that often must be aggregated using voting. This leads to interesting issues because what, if any, information should be elicited from an agent depends on what other agents have revealed about their preferences so far. In this paper we study effective elicitation, and its impediments, for the most common voting protocols. It turns out that in the Single Transferable Vote protocol, even knowing when to terminate elicitation is NP-complete, while this is easy for all the other protocols under study. Even for these protocols, determining how to elicit effectively is NP-complete, even with perfect suspicions about how the agents will vote. The exception is the Plurality protocol where such effective elicitation is easy. We also show that elicitation introduces additional opportunities for strategic manipulation by the voters. We demonstrate how to curtail the space of elicitation schemes so that no such additional strategic issues arise.

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