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On the Problem of Adjudicating Conflicting Claims


William Thomson
University of Rochester

September 27, 2007
4:00 pm
Bailey Hall 201

Refreshments will be served at 3:45 in Bailey 204


Suppose that the claims against an estate, or against of a bankrupt corporation, add up to more than the total worth. How can we decide how much to pay each claimant? This simple question has lead to a wealth of study in mathematical economics. Iíll focus both on the possible axioms (mathematical rules of fairness or consistency) one might desire in a solution, and on the actual rules that satisfy these axioms. Iíll present the problem and give examples of rules*, one of which has its origins in the Talmud. Iíll then introduce two recently formulated, broad families of rules. Topics include the idea of consistency, the Elevator Lemma, parametric rules, and an idea of how to identify consistent rules. These last items are what the mathematically inclined will have the most fun with. The level of the talk will be suitable for students and faculty both.

* Several copies of Professor Thomson's recent paper Two families of rules for the adjudication of conflicting claims are available in the Mathematics Department Common Room.

For additional information, send e-mail to math@union.edu or call (518) 388-6246.
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