YC Honors Students Get a Taste of the Cake-Cutting Problem With Aaron Koolyk

fair division cake cutting
Aaron Koolyk discussing fair division to Honors students

On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program and the Department of Computer Science at Yeshiva College co-hosted a seminar on Computational Social Choice.

Lead by Aaron Koolyk ’11YC, a graduate student at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and Hebrew University in Israel, the seminar focused on the concept of “fair division,” commonly known as “the cake-cutting problem” (described as dividing a cake between several people such that each person is fully satisfied with the piece he or she gets).

Over lunch, honors students and computer science majors discussed how the problem can be modeled mathematically as well as how the objectives could be achieved computationally.

Following the event, Tuvya Macklin ’25YC, remarked, “It was amazing to see how a simple scenario like cutting a cake can be approached in a scientific way and how algorithms can be applied to produce concrete solutions.” Jonathan Wenger ’24YC added that “I enjoyed learning about different algorithms to solve the cake-cutting problem, and it was also intriguing to see how it related to passages in the Talmud that I’m learning in the morning.”

The event was the first in a two-part series, with the second scheduled for the spring.

Dr. Eliezer Schnall, director of the Honors Program, noted how “the lecture and ensuing discussion presented the topic from the perspective of classic Jewish sources, demonstrating the Torah U’madda approach that makes Yeshiva University special.”