IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The undercut procedure: an algorithm for the envy-free division of indivisible items

  • Brams, Steven J.
  • Kilgour, D. Marc
  • Klamler, Christian

We propose a procedure for dividing indivisible items between two players in which each player ranks the items from best to worst and has no information about the other player’s ranking. It ensures that each player receives a subset of items that it values more than the other player’s complementary subset, given that such an envy-free division is possible. We show that the possibility of one player’s undercutting the other’s proposal, and implementing the reduced subset for himself or herself, makes the proposer “reasonable” and generally leads to an envy-free division, even when the players rank items exactly the same. Although the undercut procedure is manipulable, each player’s maximin strategy is to be truthful. Applications of the undercut procedure are briefly discussed.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12774.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12774
Contact details of provider: Postal: Schackstr. 4, D-80539 Munich, Germany
Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2219
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Brams, S.J. & Kaplan, T.R., 2002. "Dividing the Indivisible: Procedures for Allocating Cabinet Ministries to Political Parties in a Parliamentary System," Working Papers 02-06, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. I. D. Hill, 2008. "Mathematics and Democracy: Designing Better Voting and Fair-division Procedures," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 171(4), pages 1032-1033.
  3. Steven J. Brams & Peter C. Fishburn, 2000. "Fair division of indivisible items between two people with identical preferences: Envy-freeness, Pareto-optimality, and equity," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 247-267.
  4. Brams, S. J. & Eldelman, P. H. & Fishburn, P. C., 2000. "Fair Division of Indivisible Items," Working Papers 00-15, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Steven J. Brams & D. Marc Kilgour, 2001. "Competitive Fair Division," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 418-443, April.
  6. Weingast, Barry R. & Wittman, Donald, 2008. "The Oxford Handbook of Political Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199548477, July.
  7. Edelman, Paul & Fishburn, Peter, 2001. "Fair division of indivisible items among people with similar preferences," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 327-347, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12774. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ekkehart Schlicht)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.