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## Computers Assisting Court Judges

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David@VeritasPrep GMAT Instructor
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Computers Assisting Court Judges Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:49 pm
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Hey guys! Here is another original. Let me know what you think...

Prosecutor: Our state now has a computer program that gives judges the ability to instantly learn how much a particular criminal punishment will cost the taxpayers. Judges simply enter the type of crime for which the defendant was convicted as well as the defendant’s criminal history and other background information. The computer program responds with a selection of recommended sentences along with the amount that each sentence will cost the state. For example, a 3-year prison sentence would cost taxpayers nearly \$40,000, while 3 years of probation would cost less than \$7000. Clearly, this new program will save the state millions of dollars each year and will not result in any increase in the crime rate.

Which of the following is an assumption relied on by the argument?

A) Judges will give equal consideration to the cost of each type of punishment and to the deterrent effect of that punishment.

B) All types of punishment, regardless of cost, have the same deterrent effect on crime

C) The state does not have laws requiring a specific punishment for each crime.

D) Less expensive punishments, such as probation, are more effective in preventing that defendant from committing another crime.

E) The voters in the state are very supportive of the use of this computer program in determining sentences.

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uwhusky GMAT Titan
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Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:55 pm
I'll go with C.

Negate this assumption and the whole system is rendered pointless, other than for novelty purpose.

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vijaynaik Rising GMAT Star
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Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:37 pm
I agree C is correct. But I thought it's B.

If all punishments types are not equally effective in reducing the crime then how can the judge select between 3 years prison and 3 years probation? Judge can't select just based on price. If he/she does, then the conclusion is invalid.

But B comes into picture once the system is established. C makes the system possible. So i guess C is better.

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Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:10 pm
I agree that B is a contender as well.

I guess we can see what David offers in his explanation.

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Sun Sep 26, 2010 4:05 pm
What is wrong with A?

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debmalya_dutta GMAT Destroyer!
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Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:14 pm
Will go with B....

Judges enter the crime criteria and options are presented ... judge can select the cheapest option..Conclusion states that it will save the state money and will continue to restrict crime at the current level ...

Assumption here is that all the sentence options that the judge is presented with have equal deterrence effect otherwise the crime rate can possibly increase

I did not consider C because even if the state had its own laws , the computer program has a database of all laws applicable for the state... The judge keys in the type of crime for which the defendant was convicted as well as the defendantâ€™s criminal history and other background information etc and the computer responds taking into account all applicable laws...
Again ..the conclusion is not about the efficiency of the computer program but about saving money and deterring further crime...

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Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:33 pm
What is wrong with A?
I see your point Sudhanshu.. It's a contender.... What was your reasoning ?

I might be wrong with my selection of B... But the reason I did not go for A is because I had a doubt on whether the conclusion really depends on equal consideration for cost and deterrence ... It is really based on ensuring that there is no adverse effect on deterrence effectiveness ... But again ..Not sure on this on...

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Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:20 pm
OA is C.

My favorite post on this one is from UWHusky - who said everything that I am about to say below - except in like 10 words! "Negate this assumption and the whole system is rendered pointless, other than for novelty purpose."

Okay here is the "official" explanation:

This stimulus has a two-part conclusion: first, that the program will save the state millions of dollars and, second, that there will not be an increase in the crime rate. If this question required you to guarantee the conclusion, you would need an answer choice that addresses both sides and made these outcomes inevitable. However, this is an assumption question, so you are focusing on the answer choice that is required by the conclusion, but not necessarily enough to guarantee the conclusion.

You can evaluate the answers to assumption questions by eliminating those that are off-topic and then negate the remaining answer choice to see if the absence of the answer choice undermines the argument’s conclusion.

A) This answer is on topic so negate: The negation is that judges will not give “equal weight” to the cost and the deterrent effect of each punishment. The argument does not require that specifically equal weight is given, of course it is important that some weight be given to cost and some to deterrence but this need not be equal for the conclusion to work.

B) The negation of this answer is that “not all” types of punishment have the same deterrent effect on crime. This argument does not require this, for example, if the less expensive punishments were more effective that would not undermine the conclusion, it would actually enhance the conclusion. Don’t be tricked into thinking that this answer choice means that less expensive punishments can still be effective, this answer goes beyond that and says that all punishments have the SAME deterrent effect. This is not required.

C) The negation is that the state DOES have laws requiring specific punishments for each crime. It is clear that having a specific punishment for each crime does not support the idea that judges can hand down less expensive sentences. In fact, if this answer choice is taken away, meaning that the punishment for each crime is mandatory, then what good is giving the judge any information on sentences?

D) This answer choice would very much strengthen the idea that by using punishments such as probation judges could save the taxpayers’ money without increasing the crime rate. However, this is an assumption question and the argument does not require that less expensive punishments be MORE effective - equally effective would certainly work!

E) I originally wrote this answer to say that the voters are “at least somewhat supportive” of the use of this computer program. That was too good of a choice because if the voters give no support to the program then they may elected leaders who get rid of it. C would still have been a better choice, but I changed this answer to say that the voters are “very supportive.” It is not necessary that the voters be very supportive - it would be help if they do not take to the streets to protest the use of the program but they do not need to be “very supportive.”

Nice work on that one. Hope that explanation satisfies!

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mundasingh123 GMAT Titan
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Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:49 am
I got C, but can someone explain what does option A mean ?

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Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:45 am
Hi David,

In your explanation , you did not negate the Strengthen Answer Choice. I would like to know as to what would be the effect of negating a Strengthen Answer Choice for Assumption Question. If such an answer choice takes the conclusion apart and if I dont realise it to be a Strengthen Answer, then I might misjudge the answer. So, is Negation a reliable way for Assumption Questions?

Also, will this be the same case for Sufficient Assumption answer choices for a question asking for Necessary Assumption.

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Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:02 pm
If there are laws about a specific sentence for a crime then the whole argument for the cost of the punishment of crimes wit the options of the punishment is not valid

so (C)

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Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:00 pm
I understand how C works here. But, if I negate A:

The Judge does NOT give equal consideration to the cost and deterrent effect of the punishment, then the 2nd part of the conclusion -- deterrent effect -- is affected. If the Judge were to simply give probation for violent crimes to save the state millions of dollars, the deterrent effect will NOT be true. This would mean that the argument is not airtight, wouldn't it?

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Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:38 am
kris610 - One very common way that assumption answer choices can be eliminated is when they are too specific. Let me give you an example:

If the conclusion is "China will win the most medals in the 2012 Olympics in London."

One answer choice might be that "China will win exactly 5 more medals than the United States." Can you see how this is too specific? If we negate this and say that China will not win exactly 5 more medals it is still possible that they will win 1 more medal or 20 more medals or any number except 5.

This is where answer choice A from the computers assisting judges question comes in.

Here is my explanation of A, see if it make more sense when you think about the fact that it might be more specific than necessary.

"A) This answer is on topic so negate: The negation is that judges will not give “equal weight” to the cost and the deterrent effect of each punishment. The argument does not require that specifically equal weight is given, of course it is important that some weight be given to cost and some to deterrence but this need not be equal for the conclusion to work."

In other words, before the computer assistance, judges may be giving basically no thought to the cost, since they likely do not know what it is. With the computers they will give at least some thought to the cost but it does not need to be exactly equal.

I hope that works for you. When I wrote this question my design for choice A was that it would be an example of an answer that is too specific.

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Sat Jan 07, 2012 6:59 am
nileshdalvi wrote:
Hi David,

In your explanation , you did not negate the Strengthen Answer Choice. I would like to know as to what would be the effect of negating a Strengthen Answer Choice for Assumption Question. If such an answer choice takes the conclusion apart and if I dont realise it to be a Strengthen Answer, then I might misjudge the answer. So, is Negation a reliable way for Assumption Questions?

Also, will this be the same case for Sufficient Assumption answer choices for a question asking for Necessary Assumption.

First let me say that I understand the reasons for referring to something as a sufficient assumption or a necessary assumption. I use a similar distinction on the LSAT where this concept would actually apply much better. A sufficient assumption will "bridge the gap" in an argument and almost guarantee that the conclusion is true. This type of assumption is something that you can predict before turning to the answer choices.

Here is an example. "I like mildly spiced curry, therefore I will like the dinner that you are cooking. Now we can look at this and say that I am assuming that you are cooking a mildly spiced curry. If not then there is not connection to this argument.

The other type of assumption that you mention is the "necessary assumption." This type of assumption is one where you cannot really predict as you head to the answer choices. I might say that "My friend will pick me up at the airport." There are many necessary assumptions here that cannot be predict, however if you negate these you will see that they are required. Here are two that you may not have thought of:

1)I have a friend.

2) I will at some point be at an airport.

You can see that if you negate either of these then the conclusion fails. This second type is more of the classic approach to assumption questions on the GMAT.

In fact, now that I have discussed these types I can say that this distinction is, in my opinion, not very important on the GMAT. You have asked me above "what if I get a necessary and a sufficient assumption on the same problem? The answer is that you will not. There will only ever be one correct answer to any GMAT assumption question and that answer choice is the one that is necessary.

In other words, there will be only one answer that when negated truly undermines the conclusion. And negating an answer choice that would be a better answer for a strengthen question will not truly undermine the conclusion either.

Look at D above. D) Less expensive punishments, such as probation, are more effective in preventing that defendant from committing another crime.

This would make a great strengthen answer! The punishments are cheaper AND more effective? Wow! That really helps to strengthen our use of these computer systems. But is it necessary? That is the key word FOR ANY ASSUMPTION. If an answer choice is not necessary it is not the correct answer to any assumption on the GMAT.

So let's negate D and see if it was truly necessary. "D) Less expensive punishments, such as probation, are NOT more effective in preventing that defendant from committing another crime. (my negation is in bold). As you can see, this only tells us that less expensive punishments are not more effective. They could still be equally effective. Equally effective AND less expensive sounds like it would do what the conclusion calls for which is "save the state millions of dollars each year and will not result in any increase in the crime rate."

So while D - the strengthen answer - is nice, we can live without it and so it is not the assumption.

C we cannot live without. As ArunangsuSahu mentions above, if you take away C the whole argument fails. That is a correct assumption answer.

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chieftang Really wants to Beat The GMAT!
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Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:05 am
Nice question, David. Not surprising subject matter coming from a JD, either.

For me, A was the trap and C was the better answer. And I thought the question was a tad lengthy.

Off topic a bit, but I am curious what you would think of such a system actually be implemented?

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