Data (4)

The Effect of Redistricting

Every ten years the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a new census, a process required under the Constitution which involves surveying every household in the country to obtain updated population figures. Accurate data is important for numerous reasons, most notably for ensuring proper apportionment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. According to the Constitution, every Representative must represent a roughly-equal number of constituents. As populations grow, die, or move…

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Book Review: Weapons of Math Destruction

I recently read Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Niel, after seeing it recommended several times. The book is an easy read and a thought-provoking exploration of the ethical implications of big data algorithms. O'Neil argues that opaque predictive algorithms can codify bias, racism, and inequality into automated systems. Through numerous examples in educational, financial, and judicial systems, she illustrates how the humans who design algorithms can unintentinally imbue them with their…

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On Gerrymandering

According to the U.S. Constitution, congressional districts are supposed to provide proportional representation. Practically speaking, that means that districts should be contiguous, contain roughly the same number of inhabitants, and (based on the Voting Rights Act of 1965) roughly the same racial makeup. State legislative districts are also drawn to similar standards. State Legislatures redraw district boundaries every 10 years (after the census) to relect population changes. But due to the partisan…

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Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Recently I picked up a copy of The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg from my local library. I thought it would be an interesting read because our lives are often ruled by habits - morning coffee, morning commute, afternoon exercise, late-night stress-eating. Understanding how habits are formed and broken, and taking time to reflect on the positive and negative habits in my life, might help me to build better habits and improve my…

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