Mathematics and the Election Discussed – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Mathematics and the Election Discussed

The Department of Mathematics is jumping on board with the election spirit and will host Game Theorist and Political Scientist Steven J. Brams from New York University on Tuesday, Oct. 2 to talk about mathematics and elections.  The talk will be held at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

Brams will give a public talk based on his recent work regarding electoral systems. In a recently published article titled “Is There a Better Way to Elect a President?” Brams describes the properties of approval voting in which voters can approve as many candidates as they like in a multicandidate election. This is the system which has been adopted by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the American Mathematic Society (AMS) and several other professional societies. Brams argues that this system is a much simpler and more practical option than the plurality U.S. voting system.  In addition, he will discuss other systems such as ranking systems and grading systems which have been widely discussed in mathematical fields.

Brams will touch on the Electoral College system about which he has written extensively. In fact, Bram’s opinions on the system were recently published by the New York Times in the editorial section and elicited an enthusiastic response from readers across the country.

In addition, Brams will visit multiple classes and discuss his work in more depth. In particular, he is looking forward to discussing his new book and recent articles. During a senior mathematics seminar, Bram will discuss his recent publication “N-Person Cake-Cutting: There May be No Perfect Division.”

Brams, a professor of politics at New York University, is the author, co-author, or co-editor of 17 books and more than 250 articles. His books include “Theory of Moves” (Cambridge, 1994) and, co-authored with Alan D. Taylor, “Fair Division: From Cake-Cutting to Dispute Resolution” (Cambridge, 1996) and “The Win-Win Solution: Guaranteeing Fair Shares to Everybody” (Norton, 1999).  His newest books are “Mathematics and Democracy: Designing Better Voting and Fair-Division Procedures” (Princeton, 2008) and “Game Theory and the Humanities: Bridging Two Worlds” (MIT, 2011).

He holds two patents for fair-division algorithms and is chair of the advisory board of Fair Outcomes, Inc. Brams has applied game theory and social-choice theory to voting and elections, bargaining and fairness, international relations, and the Bible, theology, and literature.  He is a former president of the Peace Science Society (1990-91) and of the Public Choice Society (2004-2006).  He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1986), a Guggenheim Fellow (1986-87), and was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (1998-99).

This talk is sponsored by the Department of Mathematics.