In this course we will examine some of the most important applications of mathematics in everyday life: applications in politics. While historians, psychologists and sociologists are interested in the political events, their social significance, and the workings of the human mind; it is the mathematicians who are interested in quantitative aspects of social interactions. It is probably surprising to many that this can be done through the careful analysis of mechanisms of voting and decision-making.
A short (tentative – and subject to change) description of the content:
The level of presentation assumes no college-level mathematics or social science prerequisites. The course is well suited for social science and humanities majors who need mathematics course to satisfy their distribution requirements. As Alan Taylor says in his book “Mathematics and Politics”: “...Mathematicians have tended to make two errors in teaching non-science students: we have overestimated their comfort with computational material, and we have underestimated their ability to handle conceptual material.”
The material will include a large number of exercises, some easy enough to assign for homework, and individual studies, and some appropriate for teamwork and group homework.
Unfortunately, Mathematics is not taught within a context of social sciences as often as it should be. This course provides humanities and social science students with exposure to topics such as: Game Theory, elementary Enumerative Combinatorics, Statistics and even the presentation of mathematical proof.
In this course, we will make extensive use of Internet and Computer technology. The resources on the World Wide Web will be used and encouraged in preparation of assignments and homework. In particular, web sites such as:
PRESIDENCY 2000: http://www.politics1.com/p2000.htm
Election 2000: Process, Politics and Issues: http://usgovinfo.about.com/newsissues/usgovinfo/blelect2000.htm
will be used for supplement materials.
A manuscript – which will be a supplement to the content of this course will be prepared. I will also collect and create a series of exercises, suitable for in-class and individual assignments, as well as for group assigned teamwork. Dr. Poulard will help in some of political science aspects of the course in describing voting procedures of the local (county, township and state) level politics. Together, we will prepare a list of examples and exercises describing local political relationships.
Department of Mathematics, Indiana University Northwest