Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Math Against Tyranny", by Will Hively.Discover, November 1996, pages 74-85.

Presidential elections often revive debate about the fairness of choosing thepresident through electoral colleges, rather than by popular vote. Thisarticle describes the work of physicist Alan Natapoff, who has developed amathematical way of proving that the electoral college system is fairer. Thisnon-intuitive result can be seen operating in the structure of sports eventssuch as the World Series: The team that wins the most games wins the series,even if its total number of runs is less than that of its opponent. Accordingto Natapoff's reasoning, the article says, the electoral college systemconverts "one large national contest into 51 smaller elections in whichindividual voters have more clout."

-Allyn Jackson

American Mathematical Society