‘commentaries’ Category

Wall Street Journal Asks “Who Needs to Know How to Code”

Enrollments in MCS-177 are up; way up. This Wall Street Journal article explores why there is an increased interest in computer programming, who are the people learning to code, and what are some of the non-traditional institutions satisfying this need.

Faulty Logic or Faulty Logic about Faulty Logic?

Take a look at this MinnPost article by Joel Kramer and the comment on it by Paul Birnberg. The subject matter is Minneapolis’s Ranked Choice Voting tabulation process. Kramer offers a proof sketch that a more efficient process would necessarily give the same results. Birnberg offers a proof sketch that the results of Kramer’s process […]

Cool Mathematical Art at the MIA

I don’t blog much about events that don’t have a direct connection to the department, but I was blown away by a very mathematically-oriented artwork I saw today at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The photo on their web site doesn’t do it any justice. Trever Nicholas‘s Luma is based on the concept of a […]


If Electronic Pollbooks are the Answer, What is the Question?

I had hoped to spend today at the annual conference of the Election Verification Network (EVN) and in particular taking part in a panel on electronic pollbooks. Alas, I was unable to travel and the panel was canceled. However, one of of the other panelists blogged about what he would have said. I’ll post a […]


Urn Problems and the Election

Anyone who has studied discrete probability has run into urns containing balls of varying colors, which are withdrawn according to seemingly arbitrary rules, always ending in the same big question that Jakob Bernoulli’s own students surely posed: Why do we even care? For example, suppose three urns are filled with the following balls. Urn 1: […]

Analyzing Electronic Poll Books

I used my 2010-2011 sabbatical to delve into the application of computer technology to election administration, specifically what are known as “electronic poll book” systems. I’ve continued working on this since, with the latest outcome being a guest post on Bluestem Prairie showing that the “Center of the American Experiment’s claims for photo ID cost […]