Making Sense of the 2010 Census: Blair's Moody Mega Math Challenge Winners

In April, Jacob Hurwitz '10, David Tolnay '10, Scott Yu '10, and Andrew Das Sarma '11 won $20,000 as the winners of Moody's Mega Math Challenge.

In August, their work was accepted for publication in the SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO) journal.

The following is the Executive Summary from their paper:

With so much political and economic interest behind accurate results for the United States Census, the Census Bureau has implemented several strategies for dealing with the particularly pesky problem of undercounting, or the exclusion of certain individuals from the Census: These include sampling the population after the Census to gauge how many people were excluded, guessing values for missing data, and examining public records to estimate the breakdown of the population. Of these, we found that only the last two are sufficiently helpful to merit use, whereas the .rst strategy of post-Census sampling can lead to error greater than what it was intended to remedy.

Of course, even with perfectly reliable Census results, proper political representation cannot be attained without a system that distributes seats in the House of Representatives in a manner that addresses the particularities of the population. Evaluating six methods (Hill, Dean, Webster, Adams, Je.erson, and Hamilton-Vinton) that Congress has historically considered for dividing seats in the House, we found that the Hamilton-Vinton method surpasses the others in the arena of fair apportionment.

After Congress, the next bearers of responsibility are the .fty states of the Union, which are constitutionally charged with drawing district lines that demarcate regions for their representatives. In regard to this process, we suggest that states commit to a system that impartially divides the state according to population density. Such a system, we hold, will serve the common good of the state by achieving the democratic goal that our representative democracy should reflect the sentiments of the American people.

Read more at Jacob Hurwitz's web site: