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Full-Text Articles in Law

Surprise Vs. Probability As A Metric For Proof, Edward K. Cheng, Matthew Ginther Jan 2018

Surprise Vs. Probability As A Metric For Proof, Edward K. Cheng, Matthew Ginther

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Symposium issue celebrating his career, Professor Michael Risinger in Leveraging Surprise proposes using "the fundamental emotion of surprise" as a way of measuring belief for purposes of legal proof. More specifically, Professor Risinger argues that we should not conceive of the burden of proof in terms of probabilities such as 51%, 95%, or even "beyond a reasonable doubt." Rather, the legal system should reference the threshold using "words of estimative surprise" -asking jurors how surprised they would be if the fact in question were not true. Toward this goal (and being averse to cardinality), he suggests categories such ...


Simplicial Complexes Obtained From Qualitative Probability Orders, Paul H. Edelman, Tatiana Gvozdeva, Arkadii Slinko Jan 2013

Simplicial Complexes Obtained From Qualitative Probability Orders, Paul H. Edelman, Tatiana Gvozdeva, Arkadii Slinko

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The goal of this paper is to introduce a new class of simplicial complexes that naturally generalize the threshold complexes. These will be derived from qualitative probability orders on subsets of a finite set that generalize subset orders induced by probability measures. We show that this new class strictly contains the threshold complexes and is strictly contained in the shifted complexes. We conjecture that this class of complexes is exactly the set of strongly acyclic complexes, a class that has previously appeared in the context of cooperative games. Beyond the results themselves, this new class of complexes allows us to ...


Book Review: Burden Of Proof: A Review Of Math On Trial, Paul H. Edelman Jan 2013

Book Review: Burden Of Proof: A Review Of Math On Trial, Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In Math on Trial, Leila Schneps and Coralie Col­ mez write about the abuse of mathematical argu­ ments in criminal trials and how these flawed arguments "have sent innocent people to prison" (p. ix). Indeed, people "saw their lives ripped apart by simple mathematical errors." The purpose of focusing on these errors, despite mathematics' "relatively rare use in trials" (p. x), is "that many of the common mathematical fallacies that pervade the public sphere are perfectly represented by these trials. Thus they serve as ideal illustrations of these errors and of the drastic consequences that faulty reasoning has on real ...


When 10 Trials Are Better Than 1000: An Evidentiary Perspective On Trial Sampling, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2012

When 10 Trials Are Better Than 1000: An Evidentiary Perspective On Trial Sampling, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In many mass tort cases, separately trying all individual claims is impractical, and thus a number of trial courts and commentators have explored the use of statistical sampling as a way of efficiently processing claims. Most discussions on the topic, however, implicitly assume that sampling is a “second best” solution: individual trials are preferred for accuracy, and sampling only justified under extraordinary circumstances. This Essay explores whether this assumption is really true. While intuitively one might think that individual trials would be more accurate at estimating liability than extrapolating from a subset of cases, the Essay offers three ways in ...


Will Quants Rule The (Legal) World?, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2009

Will Quants Rule The (Legal) World?, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Professor Ian Ayres, in his new book, Super Crunchers, details the brave new world of statistical prediction and how it has already begun to affect our lives. For years, academic researchers have known about the considerable and at times surprising advantages of statistical models over the considered judgments of experienced clinicians and experts. Today, these models are emerging all over the landscape. Whether the field is wine, baseball, medicine, or consumer relations, they are vying against traditional experts for control over how we make decisions. For the legal system, the take-home of Ayres's book and the examples he describes ...


Law, Statistics, And The Reference Class Problem, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2009

Law, Statistics, And The Reference Class Problem, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Statistical data are powerful, if not crucial, pieces of evidence in the courtroom. Whether one is trying to demonstrate the rarity of a DNA profile, estimate the value of damaged property, or determine the likelihood that a criminal defendant will recidivate, statistics often have an important role to play. Statistics, however, raise a number of serious challenges for the legal system, including concerns that they are difficult to understand, are given too much deference from juries, or are easily manipulated by the parties' experts. In this preview piece, I address one of these challenges, known as the "reference class problem ...


A Practical Solution To The Reference Class Problem, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2009

A Practical Solution To The Reference Class Problem, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The "reference class problem" is a serious challenge to the use of statistical evidence that arguably arises every day in wide variety of cases, including toxic torts, property valuation, and even drug smuggling. At its core, it observes that statistical inferences depend critically on how people, events, or things are classified. As there is (purportedly) no principle for privileging certain categories over others, statistics become manipulable, undermining the very objectivity and certainty that make statistical evidence valuable and attractive to legal actors. In this paper, I propose a practical solution to the reference class problem by drawing on model selection ...


On Legal Interpretations Of The Condorcet Jury Theorem, Paul H. Edelman Jan 2002

On Legal Interpretations Of The Condorcet Jury Theorem, Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

There has been a spate of interest in the application of the Condorcet Jury Theorem to issues in the law. This theorem holds that a majority vote among a suitably large body of voters, all of whom are more likely than not to vote correctly, will almost surely result in the correct outcome. Its uses have ranged from estimating the correct size of juries to justifying the voting of creditors in Chapter 11 reorganizations. While the mathematics is unassailable, the legal interpretation of the conclusion is dependent on the model of probability one uses when invoking the assumption that the ...


"Duel" Diligence: Second Thoughts About The Supremes As The Sultans Of Swing, Paul H. Edelman, Jim Chen Jan 1996

"Duel" Diligence: Second Thoughts About The Supremes As The Sultans Of Swing, Paul H. Edelman, Jim Chen

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

We respond to Professor Lynn A. Baker's criticisms of our article, The Most Dangerous Justice: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Mathematics. Professor Baker fundamentally misunderstands our measure of Supreme Court voting power. Moreover, she erroneously presumes that the "median Justice" wields the bulk of the Court's power. Even if there were a median Justice, it is far from clear whether he would be the Most Dangerous Justice. We conclude with a clarification of the median voter theorem and its implications for the distribution of voting power within the Supreme Court.