Title: The (Homological) Persistence of Gerrymandering
Speaker: Thomas Weighill - Tufts University
Abstract: Redistricting is the process of dividing a state into districts for the purpose of electing representatives. Ensuring fairness in this process has received a lot of public attention following high-profile court cases and reform efforts. To know what a fair map looks like, we need to understand the universe of valid redistricting plans for each state. In this talk, I will show how by sampling from this space and applying a persistent homology pipeline, we are able to extract key features of a "typical" plan. We can then use these features to explore how representation changes with district size, election year and partisan bias. This is joint work with Moon Duchin and Tom Needham.