The Political World

The Political World addresses issues related to the social studies areas of political science and history.  Mathematical topics play key roles in analyzing issues that arise in these disciplines.

Politics at the national level often creates controversies that can only be settled using mathematics. 

  • The controversial U.S. presidential election of 2000 raised this question:  How many votes are needed to be elected president?  Do the popular votes and electoral votes produce the same results?  
  • The U.S. Constitution requires that a decennial census will determine the allotment of seats among the states in the House of Representatives.  What kinds of apportionment schemes have been used to do this?  What are the mathematical bases of such schemes?

Politics at local levels creates other kinds of controversies that require applications of mathematics. 

  • How does a community make decisions about planning the construction of a new road and its impact on land use? 
  • Litter in the environment and its disposal are growing problems for many communities.  How can a school collect and analyze the different kinds of trash that appear on its grounds? 

Issues such as these need mathematical topics from statistics, geometry, and measurement to provide reasonable solutions.

History can raise questions for which mathematics may be able provide possible answers. 

  • Archaeologists may unearth a fragment of a tablet with strange symbols of what could be mathematical information recorded in an unknown numeration system.  What kinds of mathematics can be used to try to decipher the information? 
  • The average size of an American house has increased from colonial times to the present.  Measurement and scale can help explore the differences in the living space of eighteenth century versus present-day houses.