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A New Contest: Gerrymandering Commas

Posted by Ned Gulley,

Last February, researchers at the University of St Andrews ran a MATLAB programming contest to study how people compete and collaborate online. I’m very happy to report that another such contest just started today, and I encourage you to join in the fun.

As before, we here at MathWorks are pleased to be working with Dr. Elena Miu, who has a special interest in the evolution of social learning strategies. We’ve provided the puzzle and the MATLAB processing on the back end. What’s the puzzle this time? Imagine that there is a contested vote coming up (crazy idea, right?), and your job is to create fair voting districts.

The vote has to do with the usage of the Oxford Comma in the country of Rectanglia. Partisan rancor is very high. Polling numbers tell us that Faction A voters (“Comma Forever”) have the distribution A over the countryside, and Faction B voters (“Oxit”) have the distribution B. Your job is to divide Rectanglia into N voting districts in which the total voting population is as close to equal as possible, while at the same time trying to minimize the maximum disparity between factions in any given district.

So if these are your maps of Faction A and Faction B, can you make everybody happy?

Probably not, but you might win the programming contest. And that’s pretty cool.

Start right now! Play the MATLAB Programming Contest.

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