363-1094-00L  Mathematics in Politics and Law

SemesterAutumn Semester 2019
LecturersP. Grech
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish

AbstractThis course intends to show the usefulness of mathematical reasoning in selected areas of politics and law. As such, it targets both students with a mathematical/science/engineering background as well as students of political science and law who are interested in interdisciplinary methods.
ObjectiveDevelop an understanding in which areas of politics and law and how specifically mathematical reasoning can be a helpful tool.
Apply specific procedures and methods, inspired by microeconomics and computer science, in voting situations and negotiations.
ContentThis course presents a selection of topics relevant to real-life elections as well as negotiations from a mathematical perspective, e.g.
- Voting systems (Is there a `good' voting scheme?)
- Apportionment theory (How can one reasonably apportion seats to representatives given a popular vote?)
- Voting power (Who is the most influencial? How should one define voting power?)
- Fairness (How do you fairly settle a negotiation over homogeneous/heterogeneous resources?)
- ...

Particular emphasis will be put on examples, such as
- US and Swiss elections (vote splitting, gerrymandering)
- EU Council
- Divorces, bequests
- Bilateral treaties
- CO2 negotiations
- Refugee distribution
- ...

The course consists of core lectures, exercise sessions, as well as two distinguished guest lectures that bridge theory and practice. Contact hours to discuss the student assignment and lecture content will also be announced.
Lecture notesA slide deck will be made available.
LiteratureA list of relevant references will be distributed in the beginning of the course.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course does not require specific mathematical prerequisites. A flair/interest for mathematical reasoning is however important.