Incompleteness and Incomparability in Preference Aggregation

Maria Silvia Pini, Francesca Rossi, Kristen Brent Venable, Toby Walsh

We consider how to combine the preferences of multiple agents despite the presence of incompleteness and incomparability in their preference orderings. An agent's preference ordering may be incomplete because, for example, there is an ongoing preference elicitation process. It may also contain incomparability as this is useful, for example, in multi-criteria scenarios. We focus on the problem of computing the possible and necessary winners, that is, those outcomes which can be or always are the most preferred for the agents. Possible and necessary winners are useful in many scenarios including preference elicitation. First we show that computing the sets of possible and necessary winners is in general a difficult problem as is providing a good approximation of such sets. Then we identify general properties of the preference aggregation function which are sufficient for such sets to be computed in polynomial time. Finally, we show how possible and necessary winners can be used to focus preference elicitation.