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My friends and I are trying to figure out which one of our professor's would win in a fist fight. (ie, 2 profs would fight at a time, and the victors of those fights would then fight, etc. until there is only 1 winner). We have not asked, but we suspect they will be unwilling to cooperate with us, so we want to compare them ourselves and algorithmically determine a winner. The basic idea is that each person would be presented several(~20) dialogs, each along the lines of "Would X or Y win in a fist fight?", where X and Y would be random professors. At the end of this, we need some way to use all of these comparisons to pick a winner.

I looked into using ELO scoring, but it won't work as it is time dependent. To me, it seems like this problem must have been solved already. I can think of many scenarios where you would need something similar(e.g. several people want to go to a restaurant together, and must decide what the group's favourite is).

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about Software Engineering as defined in the help center. The field of study you are asking about is called Decision Theory, or maybe more specifically Social Choice Theory, and is a subfield of economics, statistics, psychology, biology, political and other social sciences, philosophy, and computer science (among other things). You might find better and more answers on Computer Science, Politics, or Economics. – Jörg W Mittag Mar 30 at 15:51
  • I know you're asking about the math for combining the opinions, not about the actual combat, but be aware that fist fights aren't necessarily well ordered. "A" could beat "B", "B" could beat "C", and "C" could beat "A" (like rock-paper-scissors). – Ray Butterworth Mar 31 at 0:18
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You're probably looking for a Condorcet method. They are used for example to elect governing boards in open source projects.

The main mechanism is that each voter ranks candidates (with the option of not ranking some condidates at all, or assigning the same rank to multiple candidates.)

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