a weekly roundup of cartoons, links, and easy mathematical pasta recipes
The noodly mathematics of gerrymandering remains a hot topic in the news. I recommend the More Perfect episode, as well as Patrick Honner’s explanation for Quanta Magazine. (Speaking of which, Quanta is like the Beatles of popular math writing. The quantity of quality stuff is unfathomable.)
Quick summary: The aim of gerrymandering is to redraw legislative districts so that your party wins more seats. This is best accomplished by winning each seat with a tiny majority, so you don’t “waste” any votes. What does it mean to “waste” a vote? Well, any vote in a district you lose is wasted, ’cause you didn’t win. And any vote above the winning threshold (50%) is wasted, ’cause you didn’t need it. (This means that, by definition, half of all votes in any district are wasted.)
The efficiency gap is pretty simple: it’s the difference between the two parties’ wasted votes (expressed as a percentage of all votes).
I’ve always got way too many tabs open. Quick screen grab:
The podcast is what it says on the tin: Mathematicians recounting their favorite theorems. I just downloaded all five episodes. Eager to start listening.
Here’s a bizarre one: apparently how you eat corn is super predictive of what kind of math you like, analysis or algebra.
I bristle a little at the writer’s descriptions of the fields, but the correlation is kind of uncanny. My wife (an analyst) and my dad (who prefers algebra) both fit the pattern. I’ve always felt pretty agnostic between the two (if you’re batting .000 from both sides of the plate, you might as well call yourself a switch hitter!) but the corn test pegs me as an algebraist. Who am I to disagree?
My niece (age 2) sometimes asks me to draw “happy triangles” for her. Then, as soon as I finish, she scribbles them out. I’m sure it’s a metaphor for something.