ViewPoint: The absurd math of the electoral college

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Tauhid Zaman

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Tauhid Zaman

From the Boston Business Journal

For those who think it’s mathematically odd that Donald Trump was sworn in this past week as the next president of the United States — even though he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes — I have some news: It could have been even more strange.

Instead of netting only 46.1 percent of the vote compared with Clinton’s 48.2 percent of the popular vote, Trump could have, by my calculations, pulled in a mere 22 percent of the popular vote and still won the election.

How is that possible? Thank our quirky electoral college system, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, that assigns electoral votes to final election outcomes in individual states, not by a nationwide vote tally.

It’s all about mathematics. Here’s how it works.

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Modeling Twitter — Tauhid Zaman

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Tauhid Zaman

We often hear that the Internet is unpredictable, that it’s the “Wild West.” That would seem to be especially true of a social medium such as Twitter. After all, tweets are by definition instant and short-lived. But in a paper I and my co-authors just submitted to the Annals of Applied Statistics, we describe a model we have developed that predicts how popular a tweet is likely to be within just a few minutes of when the “root tweet” is posted.

And anyone who wants to can now try out our model by visiting www.twouija.com.

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