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On Diversity

Martin L. Weitzman
The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Vol. 107, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 363-405
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2118476
Page Count: 43
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On Diversity
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Abstract

An oft-repeated goal in many contexts is the "preservation of diversity." But what is the diversity function to be optimized? This paper shows how a reasonable measure of the "value of diversity" of a collection of objects can be recursively generated from more fundamental information about the dissimilarity-distance between any pair of objects in the set. The diversity function is shown to satisfy a basic dynamic programming equation, which in a well-defined sense generates an optimal classification scheme. A surprisingly rich theory of diversity emerges, having ramifications for several disciplines. Implications and applications are discussed.

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