Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications

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September 13, 2023
Written on . Posted in Math Modeling.

Math Modeling Real-World Topics: Gerrymandering

In this blog series, we're highlighting math modeling modules and articles that explore real-world issues that have broad implications.

Topic Summary

Gerrymandering is the political manipulation of electoral district boundaries with the intent to create undue advantage for a party, group, or socioeconomic class within the constituency.

There have been many cases of gerrymandering that appeared in the Supreme Court over the years. At the center of the arguments are issues of fairness that can be approached mathematically. Often when trying to decide what is best or optimal or fair, the question: “Well, that might be fair, but compared to what?” arises. 

When congressional districts are drawn, there are many possibilities! The existence of many options for how districts are drawn is in part why “obvious” instances of gerrymandering are possible.

Some Resources to Get You Started

With this article about mathematical compactness, or this article introducing some of the computational complexities of studying gerrymandering, you can provide students with a unique opportunity to practice critical thinking, math modeling, computational thinking, and further mathematical explorations. 

The topic is a rich and generative one, completely apart from the initial thorny issue of deciding when a district map has gone beyond what is considered fair. See what types of questions and conversations develop!

How to Access the Articles

These articles are available with a full membership on the COMAP website. Sign up here to get access.

Here are some real-world math modeling modules, available for free, that we’ve featured lately:

Want even more free modules? Check out this list of 10 interesting math modules.

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The Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications is an award-winning non-profit organization whose mission is to improve mathematics education for students of all ages. Since 1980, COMAP has worked with teachers, students, and business people to create learning environments where mathematics is used to investigate and model real issues in our world.


COMAP develops curriculum resources, professional development programs, and contest opportunities that are multidisciplinary, academically rigorous, and fun for educators and students. COMAP's educational philosophy is centered around mathematical modeling: using mathematical tools to explore real-world problems.

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