July 21, 2010
Voting often manifests mathematical problems—and author George Szpiro offers some solutions in his book Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy, from Plato to the Present.
Since the birth of democracy in ancient Greece, the act of voting has given rise to mathematical paradoxes. Szpiro details the mathematical trials, tribulations, and triumphs of thinkers through the ages who have dared, however, to take on the odds in pursuit of an equitable democracy.
In his telling the stories of these visionaries and the voting problems they sought to conquer, Szpiro traces the quest by philosophers, statesmen, and mathematicians to create a more perfect democracy—and to adapt to the ever-changing demands that each generation places on democratic institutions.
One chapter, for instance, which deals with largest fractional remainders method, has been highlighted in the excerpt "How to Solve Congress's Fraction Problem".
William Poundstone, author of Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do about It) (Look for a review of this book in the September 2010 issue of CMJ) has given Szipiro's book a thumbs up.
Source: History News Network (July 15, 2010)