Does Your Vote Matter? A Mathematical Look at Politics and Social Choice (MAT2241.01)

Steven Morics

Mathematics and the natural sciences have a long history together, but recently, mathematicians have begun using the tools of their trade on a collection of problems from the social sciences. Is it right that, as a Californian, my vote counted much less than yours did in the last presidential election? If a business fails with a million dollars in the bank, and it owes you a million dollars and owes me $500,000, should you receive one-half of, two-thirds of, three-fourths of, or all of the million dollars that you’re owed as part of the bankruptcy settlement? This class will consider the problem of turning a collection of individual preferences into a collective decision, in many different situations: from elections to divorce settlements to apportionment and gerrymandering. We’ll consider the Electoral College, ranked-choice voting, fair division problems, apportionment problems, and some of the mechanics behind mathematical decision making, including utility functions and game theory.

Prerequisites: High school algebra
Credits: 4
M 10:00am - 11:50am; Th 10:00am - 11:50am
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as Steven Morics, All courses, Four Credit, 2000, Mathematics, Monday and/or Thursday Mornings.