The Dimension of the Supreme Court

14 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2004

See all articles by Paul H. Edelman

Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt University - Law School


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.

Keywords: Supreme Court, spatial voting, information theory, singular value decomposition

Suggested Citation

Edelman, Paul H., The Dimension of the Supreme Court. Available at SSRN:

Paul H. Edelman (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

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