Goderbauer's Algorithm for the Optimal Redrawing of Electoral Constituencies is Put into Practice


KlarText Prize for Dr. Sebastian Goderbauer

Sebastian Goderbauer Copyright: Ingo Knopf

Sebastian Goderbauer from the Chair of Operations Research has been awarded the KlarText Prize 2020 for communicating scientific results.

Every year, the Klaus Tschira Foundation is looking for young scientists who have produced a very good doctoral thesis and are interested in explaining to a non-scientific audience in a clear and understandable way what they have actually investigated in their doctoral research.

Sebastian Goderbauer fitted this category very well and convinced the jury in the field of mathematics with an article which described his research.

Die beste Wahl – Sebastian Goderbauer, KlarText-Preisträger 2020

From Research to Practice

Sebastian Goderbauer (Chair of Operations Research at RWTH Aachen University) is the first German mathematician to have their mathematical model for calculating electoral constituencies put into practice. Having had this topic as his research focus for several years, he has recently developed an algorithm that is oriented towards the legal requirements and the objectives of a redrawing. Supported by chairholder Professor Marco Lübbecke, who also gave him the idea in 2012 of addressing the topic, Goderbauer has developed a software tool for calculating several redraws of the constituencies.

The algorithm serves to divide Germany into optimized electoral constituencies for the German Bundestag elections. If the number of constituencies is too high, the number of members of the German Bundestag will exceed the regular 598 seats. Presently, the number of constituencies is 299 and therefore the number of representatives is 709. In future, the number of constituencies is to decrease to 250 in order to reduce the size of the Bundestag, since the fewer consituencies there are, the fewer representatives will enter the Bundestag.

Goderbauer's algorithm found a solution for 250 constituencies which takes all legal requirements and conditions into account. In only one constituency was the target value of 15 percent exceeded by 0.5 percent.

Click here to read the article published in the Spiegel news magazine (in German).