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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2000 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Mathematical Devices for Getting a Fair Share

Whether the problem involves an estate, a cake or an opportunity for regency, solutions now exist for obtaining an equitable division

Theodore Hill

For ages the problem of fairly dividing resources—whether they be estates, territories or the spoils of war—has generally been resolved unilaterally, as in the case of Solomon and the baby. Recently, however, mathematicians have discovered elegant, practical and surprisingly simple resolutions to many fair-division problems. The author describes a number of different approaches to solving both ancient and recent "cake-cutting" problems and notes that the field remains ripe for innovation.


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