Combating Gerrymandering Using a Supercomputer

via Vox

Gerrymandering is the willful, unfair manipulation of legislative district boundaries with the goal of achieving political advantages. This has been an unfortunate facet of the United States democratic process that dates back as early as the late 1700s. Wendy Cho and Yan Y. Liu, University of Illinois researchers, recently used supercomputers to implement an algorithm designed to combat this widespread issue. The algorithm takes into consideration the requirements set forth by the courts regarding the resizing of legislative district boundaries. Using this information, the algorithm is able to produce billions of possibilities for district boundaries, without the potential influence of political aspirations held by those in charge of creating the boundaries. The boundaries produced by the supercomputer can be compared against those handmade by politicians to try to estimate their fairness, and the possibility of malign intentions behind the reshaping of a district.

This is an remarkable example of how computer science can be applied in an array of different fields of study. Click through to view the entire feature on Vox.