Extra Effort: Finishing the Job on Data+

Some of our Data+ projects don’t end at after summer—the students keep the work alive out of a passion for the subject they worked on.

Sachet Bangia, Econ/CompSci major, along with Sophie Guo, Math/PoliSci major, Bridget Dou, ECE/CompSci major, and Christy Vaughn, now a graduate student in the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton, participated in the Gerrymandering project led by Jonathan Mattingly. The project studied different procedures for drawing congressional boundaries, and quantifying the effects of these procedures on the fairness of actual election results.

The team decided to build a website that could easily share their results, but at the end of the summer, the site wasn’t complete. So Sachet continued the work on his own time. The result: Quantifying Gerrymandering, an interactive resource full of charts and animations to help people visualize the findings.

An example of data vizualization on the Quantifying Gerrymandering site

“We wanted to display our findings in the most accessible manner, so we decided to make a webpage instead of writing a paper,” he says. “The hope is that the results of our project will be easily understood by anyone interested in learning about the issue.”

Faculty advisor Jonathan Mattingly was impressed by how the site translates the results of the work.

“The visualizations make a convincing argument that gerrymandering can reduce the number of competitive districts,” he says.

The entire team’s effort showed Mattingly what can be accomplished in a summer. Data+ projects aim to get undergraduates at Duke interested in exploring interdisciplinary challenges.

“They did the whole thing: from collecting and cleaning the data, to building the simulations, to identifying enlightening statistics, and building an engaging presentation. It's a great study of math in action,” Mattingly says.