Preferences Single-Peaked on a Tree: Multiwinner Elections and Structural Results

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Dominik Peters
Lan Yu
Hau Chan
Edith Elkind


A preference profile is single-peaked on a tree if the candidate set can be equipped with a tree structure so that the preferences of each voter are decreasing from their top candidate along all paths in the tree. This notion was introduced by Demange (1982), and subsequently Trick (1989b) described an efficient algorithm for deciding if a given profile is single-peaked on a tree. We study the complexity of multiwinner elections under several variants of the Chamberlin–Courant rule for preferences single-peaked on trees. We show that in this setting the egalitarian version of this rule admits a polynomial-time winner determination algorithm. For the utilitarian version, we prove that winner determination remains NP-hard for the Borda scoring function; indeed, this hardness results extends to a large family of scoring functions. However, a winning committee can be found in polynomial time if either the number of leaves or the number of internal vertices of the underlying tree is bounded by a constant. To benefit from these positive results, we need a procedure that can determine whether a given profile is single-peaked on a tree that has additional desirable properties (such as, e.g., a small number of leaves). To address this challenge, we develop a structural approach that enables us to compactly represent all trees with respect to which a given profile is single-peaked. We show how to use this representation to efficiently find the best tree for a given profile for use with our winner determination algorithms: Given a profile, we can efficiently find a tree with the minimum number of leaves, or a tree with the minimum number of internal vertices among trees on which the profile is single-peaked. We then explore the power and limitations of this framework: we develop polynomial-time algorithms to find trees with the smallest maximum degree, diameter, or pathwidth, but show that it is NP-hard to check whether a given profile is single-peaked on a tree that is isomorphic to a given tree, or on a regular tree.

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