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Cake Cutting – Fair and Square

Erel Segal-Halevi and Shmuel Nitzan ()

No 2014-01, Working Papers from Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics

Abstract: The classic fair cake-cutting problem [Steinhaus, 1948] is extended by introducing geometric constraints on the allocated pieces. Specifically, agents may demand to get their share as a square or a rectangle with a bounded length/width ratio. This is a plausible constraint in realistic cake-cutting applications, notably in urban and agricultural economics where the “cake” is land. Geometric constraints greatly affect the classic results of the fair division theory. The existence of a proportional division, giving each agent 1/n of his total cake value, is no longer guaranteed. We prove that it is impossible to guarantee each agent more than 1/(2n-1) of his total value. Moreover, we provide procedures implementing partially proportional division, giving each agent 1/(An-B) of his total value, where A and B are constants depending on the shape of the cake and its pieces. Fairness and social welfare implications of these procedures are analyzed in various scenarios.

Keywords: fair division; cake cutting; land division; geometry; non-additive utilities; social welfare (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014-01
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