Now We're Talking: Better Deliberation Groups through Submodular Optimization

Jake Barrett, Kobi Gal, Paul Gölz, Rose M. Hong, Ariel D. Procaccia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Citizens' assemblies are groups of randomly selected constituents who are tasked with providing recommendations on policy questions. Assembly members form their recommendations through a sequence of discussions in small groups (deliberation), in which group members exchange arguments and experiences. We seek to support this process through optimization, by studying how to assign participants to discussion groups over multiple sessions, in a way that maximizes interaction between participants and satisfies diversity constraints within each group. Since repeated meetings between a given pair of participants have diminishing marginal returns, we capture interaction through a submodular function, which is approximately optimized by a greedy algorithm making calls to an ILP solver. This framework supports different submodular objective functions, and we identify sensible options, but we also show it is not necessary to commit to a particular choice: Our main theoretical result is a (practically efficient) algorithm that simultaneously approximates every possible objective function of the form we are interested in. Experiments with data from real citizens' assemblies demonstrate that our approach substantially outperforms the heuristic algorithm currently used by practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAAAI-23 Technical Tracks 5
EditorsBrian Williams, Yiling Chen, Jennifer Neville
PublisherAAAI press
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781577358800
StatePublished - 27 Jun 2023
Event37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2023 - Washington, United States
Duration: 7 Feb 202314 Feb 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2023


Conference37th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, AAAI 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Now We're Talking: Better Deliberation Groups through Submodular Optimization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this