Do you need to divide your inheritance with a sibling, or your property as part of your divorce?
My recent Decoded Science article, “How to Divide Indivisible Goods Fairly: Algorithm for Dividing Assets“, explains how to use one specific process of “dividing the spoils” between two parties, that avoids either party envying the other.
Three university professors collaborated to develop this algorithm, and to prove mathematically that it gives one of the best possible results if you want:
- Each party will receive the same number of items.
- Afterwards, when each party reviews who got what, paired in their own order of preference, then each party prefers his own first, second, third (and so on) item to the one the other party received.
- Keep each item whole; do not divide any item into pieces, or sell it to divide the monetary value.
- You can accept that some items will go to a “Contested List” rather than to either of the two parties.
I also made some spreadsheets to illustrate what the process might do to divide assets when inheriting an estate or negotiating a divorce.
Canadian Content for a Fair Division of Goods
I also had a brief e-mail interview with Dr. Marc Kilgour, a professor of mathematics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He’s one of the authors of the underlying paper with the algorithm. One tidbit that didn’t get into my article, is that Canada’s NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) provided a grant which partially funded this “curiosity-driven research”.
If You Don’t Have an App for That…
Even though their algorithm might not have been incorporated into a computer program or smartphone app (yet), you might still benefit from this research.
Ask your divorce mediator or estate planner to guide you through the steps outlined in the original research paper. There’s no guarantee that it will resolve all the items, but it can simplify the task of avoiding envy when dividing the spoils.
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Thank you for reading my online articles about avoiding envy when dividing goods fairly.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used to guide your decisions without the benefit of professional advice. Any reader involved in property disputes or settlements should consult an appropriate professional.