Math Seminars

The Grand Rapids Community College Mathematics Department is pleased to announce that it will host its next Mathematics Seminar on Wednesday, November 15, 3:30-4:30 PM in 103 Cook.    

Our speaker, GRCC Mathematics Instructor Meghan VanderMale, will discuss how mathematics has been used to determine if U.S. Congressional districts have been gerrymandered.  For the title and abstract of Meghan’s talk, please see below.

This presentation will appeal to a wide range of students and faculty; no previous mathematics background is required.  All are welcome!

Pop and cookies will be served at 3:14 PM.


Measuring Fairness: Beyond the "Eyeball Test" for Detecting Gerrymandering

At the beginning of October, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case of Gill v Whitford. It is one of the only cases on partisan gerrymandering to reach the Supreme Court and it challenges the redistricting of Wisconsin following its 2010 census. In this landmark case, a relatively simple mathematical measure called the efficiency gap was featured. This talk will discuss the efficiency gap and explore what exactly it measures and where it may fall short of being a miracle gerrymander measure. We will also discuss other mathematical measures that apply to gerrymandering cases and the challenges of using them in legal settings. The mathematics involved is very accessible and requires no previous math background, nor is it necessary to know much about gerrymandering. The talk will be of particular interest to students of mathematics, government, political science, law, and statistics. You are encouraged (though not required) to bring a laptop or iPad as a portion of the talk will have computer interactive elements.