# The Last Diminisher Method – Game Steps

```Chapter 3
Notes from________
The Last Diminisher Method – Game Steps
Start: randomly assign player order P1, P2, P3, . . . PN. (For instance, each player
could draw a number from a hat, in which there are the numbers 1, 2, 3, . . . ., N)
Round 1: P1 starts as the claimant, cutting a share that he/she believes has value exactly 1 of S.
N
Strategy: If P1 claim is excessive, P1 will very likely loose the claim. If P1’s claim is too small, P1 will
be stuck with it just the way it is.
After P1 has “cut” a share, P2 has a choice. P2 can “trim” P1’s share smaller and take it from P1 (the
trimmed part goes back with the rest of the unclaimed goods) OR P2 can pass, if he/she agrees that what
P1 has done is a fair share. During the round, the turns go in order down the ranks of the players, with
each subsequent player either “passing” or trimming the claim and taking it for his own.
After the Nth player has made his choice, the round is over. Whoever currently is claimant gets to keep
whatever is currently designated as the claim. The claimant and the claim leave the game. There are now N-1
players and the new set S of goods is the Rest “R” left over at the end of round 1. It is time for round 2.
Round 2: The whole process repeats, still going in the predetermined order of players. At the end of
each round, since every player has had a chance to decide if the C piece claimed is too big, they should be
satisfied that the player who is now leaving the game with the C piece is leaving with ≤ 1 of the original
N
whole. Each remaining player stills has a chance to get a piece that is ≥ 1 of the original whole
N
according to that player’s value system.
Last Round: is the basic Divider-Chooser Method between the last two players remaining in the game.
Ex. 1 A cake is to be divided among four players (P1, P2, P3, and P4) using the last-diminisher method.
The players play in a fixed order, with P1 first, P2 second, etc.
In round 1, P1 cuts a piece s, P2 and P3 pass and P4 diminishes it.
(a) Is it possible for P2 to end up with any part of s in his final share?
(b) Which player gets a piece at the end of round 1?
(c) Which player cuts the piece at the beginning of round 2?
(d) Who is the last player who has an opportunity to diminish the piece in round 2?
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The Method of Sealed Bids – Discrete Fair Division
Ex. 2 In her will, Grandma leaves just three valuable items -- a house, a Rolls Royce, and a Picasso
painting -- to her four grandchildren: Art, Betty, Carla, and Dave. She stipulates that the items may not
be sold to outsiders and must be divided fairly in equal shares among them.
Step 1: Bidding: each player is asked to make a bid for the items in the estate, giving his or her honest
assessment of the dollar value of each item. They write down their bids independently and no player
knows what the other bids.
The Bids Summarized
Step 2: Allocation: Each item goes to the highest bidder for that item.
• House:
• Rolls Royce:
• Picasso:
Step 3: Payments: Calculate how much each player believes his fair share is worth. Do this by adding
all of the players’ bids and dividing by the number of players.
Now each player pays the estate the difference between what they received and their “fair share”.
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Step 4: Dividing the Surplus:
At which point, each player has a “fair share” and gets a bonus of _______cash.
Final Division of all goods:
Art
Betty
Carla
Dave
Sealed Bids works well as long as:
• Each player must have enough money to play the game – ie., enough money to pay the difference
between their bid and the amount of a fair-share.
• Each player must be willing to accept money as a substitute for any item. It won’t work if a player
considers an item “priceless”.
Sealed Bids work especially well to divide 1 discrete item between two people.
The Method of Markers
Advantage: none of the players have to put up any cash as part of the division.
Required Conditions:
• There must be many more items to divide than there are players.
• The items need to be of similar value or it becomes too difficult for the players to decide where to place
their markers.
Outcome of the Game: Each player comes away with one of the “strings” of items he or she bid on.
Steps for Method of Markers
Step 1: (Bidding) Each player independently divides the array into N fair shares by placing N-1 markers.
The markers separate each fair share from the next.
Step 2: (Allocations) Scan the array from left to right until the first of the First Markers is located. The
player owning that marker gets to keep his first segment and all the rest of that player’s markers are
removed. In case of a tie, break the tie randomly. We continue moving from left to right, looking for the
first of the SECOND MARKERS. The player owning it gets to keep her second segment.
Continue this process until each player has received one of the segments.
Step 3: (Leftovers). The leftover items can be divided among the players by some form of lottery or if
there are many leftovers, the method of markers may be repeated.
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Ex. 3 Four children, Alice, Bianca, Carla, and Dana (A, B, C, D,) are to divide 20 pieces of candy
Start: Line up items to be divided in an array—a linear sequence that cannot be altered during the
division. Think of this as a long “string” of objects
Step 1: Bidding: Each player creates a bid in which he “cuts” the string of objects into what he believes
are “N” fair shares – one for each of the players in the game. In this case, there are 4 players, so each
player writes down how they would “cut” the string by placing 3 (N-1) markers. No player should see
any other player’s markers before laying down his own markers. The method guarantees that each
player ends up with one of his or her bid segments of the “string” of items.
For instance, each player could mark a numbered diagram like this with the player’s markers,
representing how that person would divide the string into N sections of equal value to that player. Notice
that it requires (N-1) markers to divide the string of items into N sections.
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Step 2: Allocation: We look at the entire string, with each players’ markers where they put them.
Going left to right, we find the first marker.
In this case ______________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Now scan left to right for the first occurring second marker.
In this case ______________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Then the first occurring of the remaining third markers is a tie, because both Alice and Dana have
placed their markers in the same spot (A3 & D3). The tie is decided by tossing a coin. Alice wins the
toss and the 3rd segment from A2 to A3, or candies 12-16. Again, notice that after locating the first
occurring third marker, we assign the items going back to the left, to the corresponding second
marker.
Finally, _____________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________
Notice that each shaded region above corresponds to one of the strings of items that player bid on originally.
Step 3: Dividing the leftovers: Usually there are just a few pieces left, and they are distributed by
drawing lots and letting the players choose 1 of the leftovers in the order of the lots.
The leftovers are: ____________________________________________________________________