PLUM: A mathematician goes to court: Understanding Gerrymandering

PLUM: A mathematician goes to court: Understanding Gerrymandering

Public Lectures Seminar

Jonathan Mattingly (Duke University, Mathematics)

Monday, October 21, 2019 -
4:30pm to 5:30pm
128 Physics

This a story of both mathematics informing the law AND legal questions suggesting new mathematical problems. How does one identify and understand gerrymandering? Can we really recognize gerrymandering when we see it? If one party wins over 50% of the vote is it fair that it wins less than 50% of the seats? What do we mean by fair? How can math help illuminate these questions? For me these question began with a Duke Math PRUV undergraduate research program project in 2013, continued through a sequence of iiD Data+ projects, and has lead me to testify twice in two cases. Common Cause v. Rucho went to the US Supreme court and Common Cause v. Lewis resulted, just last month, in the redrawing of the NC State Legislative district maps. The legal discussion has been informed by the mathematical frame work, but the problem of understanding gerrymandering has also prompted the development of a number of new computational algorithms which come with new mathematical questions.

Last updated: 2020/08/06 - 6:38am