Paul H. Edelman

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Constitutional Commentary

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Supreme Court, spacial voting, information theory, single value decomposition


Constitutional Law | Law | Legal History | Supreme Court of the United States


In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lawrence Sirovich introduced two novel mathematical techniques to study patterns in recent Supreme Court decisions. One of these methods, information theory, has never been applied previously. The other method, singular value decomposition, is closely related to other methods that have previously been employed.

In this paper I give an explication of these two methods and evaluate their use in the context of understanding the Supreme Court. I conclude that information theory holds some promise for furthering our understanding but singular value decomposition, as applied by Sirovich, is a less appropriate methodology.



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