Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Political Calculus," by Barry Cipra. SIAM News, June 2001, pp. 6-7.

Many of us accept as given that there are 435 members in the U.S. House ofRepresentatives. In this article, Cipra explains that 435 is not a universalconstant and gives details of how the total number of seats in the House isdetermined and how the size of each state's delegation is established. Nameslike Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton and Webster enter into the history ofCongressional apportionment. The method currently in use was invented by JosephHill and refined by Edward V. Huntington (a former AMS vice-president). PeytonYoung, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins, calls for a return toWebster's method.

--- Mike Breen