Voting, Meta-Search and Bioconsnsus

Fred S. Roberts, Rutgers University

An old problem in the social sciences is to find a consensus given different opinions or preferences or votes. The heavily mathematical social science methods developed over the years for dealing with this problem are beginning to find novel and important applications in information technology. However, these new applications will require substantial improvements in the methods to face challenges posed by computational intractability, limitations on computational power of agents, and the sheer size of the applications. This talk will briefly describe the use of such methods in meta-search (finding the results from multiple search engines), image processing, collaborative filtering, and software measurement and then concentrate on the application of such methods to the large databases of molecular biology. Specifically, we will discuss the problem of finding a single molecular sequence that is in some sense the consensus of a collection of molecular sequences obtained by different subjective or objective methods or different investigators. We will describe a surprising connection between this problem and the well-known Kemeny-Snell notions of consensus in the social sciences