Munich Personal RePEc Archive

N-Person cake-cutting: there may be no perfect division

Brams, Steven J. and Jones, Michael A. and Klamler, Christian (2011): N-Person cake-cutting: there may be no perfect division.

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Abstract

A cake is a metaphor for a heterogeneous, divisible good, such as land. A perfect division of cake is efficient (also called Pareto-optimal), envy-free, and equitable. We give an example of a cake in which it is impossible to divide it among three players such that these three properties are satisfied, however many cuts are made. It turns out that two of the three properties can be satisfied by a 3-cut and a 4-cut division, which raises the question of whether the 3-cut division, which is not efficient, or the 4-cut division, which is not envy-free, is more desirable (a 2-cut division can at best satisfy either envy-freeness or equitability but not both). We prove that no perfect division exists for an extension of the example for three or more players.

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