A Problem of Distributive Justice, Solved by the Lasso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The problem of dividing an estate among creditors, when their claims total more than the value of the estate, was posed in the Talmud and has been analyzed in the game theory literature. Here, we reveal a close connection between schemes for estate division and linear regression solution paths obtained by least angle regression or by the lasso. We focus primarily on the division scheme known as constrained equal awards, but also consider a more complex approach described by Aumann and Maschler. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-144
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Statistician
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by Israel Science Foundation grant 1777/16. My sincere thanks to David Azriel and to the editor, associate editor, and referees for their very insightful comments on the article. Thanks as well to Robert Aumann for bringing the estate division problem to my attention in 1995, while he was visiting the University of Toronto for a conference in his honor. Coincidentally, Robert Tibshirani was then also at the University of Toronto, and it was around that time that his celebrated lasso article (Tibshirani 1996) was accepted for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


  • Constrained equal awards
  • Estate division
  • Least angle regression
  • Talmud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Mathematics (all)
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


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