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Georgia Southern University Armstrong Campus

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In our nation’s infancy, the founding fathers struggled with the practical question of how to apportion the number of representatives from each state to the U.S. House in an equitable manner. Following the first census in 1790, a heated debate arose over which apportionment method should be adopted; the is led to our country’s first presidential veto. Over the next 150 years the official method was changed five times as various paradoxes emerged and a steady stream of legislators argued passionately for or against a particular method. No lesser statesmen than Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster employed their considerable political and mathematical talents to propose different solutions to this surprisingly subtle problem. The apportionment method currently in use was adopted in 1941 yet even today has many vocal critics. Brawner will examine the intriguing history and mathematics behind the curious problem. James Brawner, Mathematics

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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