Fernando Andre Ortiz

Fernando Andre Ortiz
MIT EECS | CS+HASS Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Justin Solomon
Department: EECS
Areas of Research: CS+HASS
Years: 2018-2019
Research Project Title:

Sampling in the Space of Redistricting Plans

abstract:Gerrymandering has plagued the American electoral since the country's foundation, but has garnered increasing attention in recent years. By making elections uncompetitive, this practice has decreased voter engagement and trust in our democratic institutions. The goal of this SuperUROP is to develop and implement an algorithm that can generate electoral districts with uniform probability given an electoral map. Such an algorithm would make it possible to characterize the “distribution" of electoral maps. This could then serve as a tool to make statistical arguments in the courts about whether a given electoral map has been gerrymandered. This would hopefully lead to the removal of these partisan maps and the use of maps drawn with less human bias.

I saw the SuperUROP program as an opportunity to get meaningful experience as a researcher and gain very specialized expertise, specifically in the fields of graph algorithms and probability theory. Moreover, my project allows me to combine my passion for math and computer science, and apply it to work on bringing positive change for this country. This is also a great opportunity to explore whether I would like to pursue a future in research.