On Mastodon at @ssweeny@fosstodon.org Opinions are my own, not those of my wife, employer, child, or pets. In fact there are few areas in which we agree.
62 stories
·
1 follower

A gut-check (re-run)

1 Share
This seems urgently relevant again. Still. Always. So here is a post from 2016 about a famous "thought experiment" that is no longer only that.
Read the whole story
ssweeny
5 days ago
reply
Pittsburgh
Share this story
Delete

A Self-Enforcing Protocol to Solve Gerrymandering

2 Shares

In 2009, I wrote:

There are several ways two people can divide a piece of cake in half. One way is to find someone impartial to do it for them. This works, but it requires another person. Another way is for one person to divide the piece, and the other person to complain (to the police, a judge, or his parents) if he doesn’t think it’s fair. This also works, but still requires another person—­at least to resolve disputes. A third way is for one person to do the dividing, and for the other person to choose the half he wants.

The point is that unlike protocols that require a neutral third party to complete (arbitrated), or protocols that require that neutral third party to resolve disputes (adjudicated), self-enforcing protocols just work. Cut-and-choose works because neither side can cheat. And while the math can get really complicated, the idea generalizes to multiple people.

Well, someone just solved gerrymandering in this way. Prior solutions required either a bipartisan commission to create fair voting districts (arbitrated), or require a judge to approve district boundaries (adjudicated), their solution is self-enforcing.

And it’s trivial to explain:

  • One party defines a map of equal-population contiguous districts.
  • Then, the second party combines pairs of contiguous districts to create the final map.

It’s not obvious that this solution works. You could imagine that all the districts are defined so that one party has a slight majority. In that case, no combination of pairs will make that map fair. But real-world gerrymandering is never that clean. There’s “cracking,” where a party’s voters are split amongst several districts to dilute its power; and “packing,” where a party’s voters are concentrated in a single district so its influence can be minimized elsewhere. It turns out that this “define-combine procedure” works; the combining party can undo any damage that the defining party does—that the results are fair. The paper has all the details, and they’re fascinating.

Of course, a theoretical solution is not a political solution. But it’s really neat to have a theoretical solution.

Read the whole story
ssweeny
17 days ago
reply
Pittsburgh
Share this story
Delete

okay but we can all agree that sherlock holmes wouldn't know what an ipad is, and - wait, what's this? babbage and lovelace's notes on a "miniaturized mechanical padde"? DANG IT

1 Share
archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - search - about
February 9th, 2024next

February 9th, 2024: Sherlock Holmes MAY be the best character in fiction, mainly because he's so good at one thing and not good at other things, and that is just a great li'l guy to read about. Love to see him get into fixes and then try to somehow bring everything back to deduction! BUT YOU CAN'T DEDUCE THE HUMAN HEART, SHERLOCK HOLMES!!

– Ryan

Read the whole story
ssweeny
23 days ago
reply
Pittsburgh
Share this story
Delete

We don’t live in ‘bubbles’

1 Share
Not looking requires perpetual vigilance. This involves effort, choice, and an active, knowing involvement in the pretense.
Read the whole story
ssweeny
38 days ago
reply
Pittsburgh
Share this story
Delete

shout out to the sponsor in the middle of para 4

1 Share
archive - contact - sexy exciting merchandise - search - about
November 20th, 2023next

November 20th, 2023: If you think about it, the Big Bang was the ultimate content creator.

– Ryan

Read the whole story
ssweeny
104 days ago
reply
Pittsburgh
Share this story
Delete

And you may ask yourself, ‘Well, how did I get here?’

1 Share
With so many urgent crises in the world right now, why would anyone spend their day writing or reading about some long-dead theologian?
Read the whole story
ssweeny
108 days ago
reply
Pittsburgh
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories