Fall 2013

Voting and Elections: A Mathematical Perspective

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-102

Moodle site: Course


Tanya L. Leise (Section 01)


The outcomes of many elections, whether to elect the next U.S. president or to rank college football teams, can displease many of the voters. How can perfectly fair elections produce results that nobody likes? We will discuss different voting systems and their pros and cons, including majority rule, plurality rule, Borda count, and approval voting, and examine the results of various past elections. We will also assess the power of each voter under various systems, for example, by calculating the Banzhaf power index. After exploring the pitfalls of various voting systems (through both theoretical analysis and examples from recent as well as historical elections), we will try to answer some pressing questions: Which voting system best reflects the will of the voters? Which is least susceptible to manipulation? What properties should we seek in a voting system, and how can we best attain them?The course will be discussion-based, and students are expected to be active participants in the seminar. The course will develop critical thinking skills and the ability to write carefully reasoned arguments. No prior mathematics is assumed. This course will provide an introduction to liberal studies through in-class discussions, readings, and writing assignments. Feedback will be provided to help students improve their writing skills.Fall semester. Professor Leise.

If Overenrolled: Handled by Dean of Students

Cost: 45 ?


Quantitative Reasoning, Science & Math for Non-majors


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013