1548 Puzzling Gerrymandering Questions

Today’s Puzzle:

If you had two types of candy and four kids, this is a good way to divide the candy. But if you had two types of voters and four congressional districts, is it a fair way to determine those congressional districts?

Gerrymandering happens when congressional district boundaries are drawn to give an advantage to one political party over another. The green party might be given an advantage in the drawing above, but does simply dividing the graphic into four quadrants give an advantage to the yellow party?

One article complains that one of the worst examples of gerrymandering is a congressional district shaped like a duck, but it is unclear if that duck is keeping like-minded people together or keeping them apart.


It is unclear to us if like-minded people were grouped together, but we can be certain that it was very clear to those who drew the boundaries.

Each of the graphics above had 12 yellow sections and 36 green sections. If you think it is only fair to let like-minded people elect someone who thinks like them,  how should congressional boundaries be drawn if the 12 yellow sections and the 36 green sections look like this?

No matter how you draw the boundaries, green will be in the majority in each congressional district, and most likely the majority will choose each district’s representative. But if you believe that gerrymandering is justified to benefit like-minded people, should those people NOT be represented by a like-minded representative simply because they don’t live next to each other?

These are good questions to puzzle over. Denise Gaskins has created the Gerrymandering Project to help you manipulate a 10 by 10 map of your creation in a variety of ways. This project will help every voter and future voter understand the mathematics and the politics of drawing boundaries on a larger scale. Check it out!

Factors of 1548:

  • 1548 is a composite number.
  • Prime factorization: 1548 = 2 × 2 × 3 × 3 × 43, which can be written 1548 = 2² × 3² × 43
  • 1548 has at least one exponent greater than 1 in its prime factorization so √1548 can be simplified. Taking the factor pair from the factor pair table below with the largest square number factor, we get √1548 = (√36)(√43) = 6√43
  • The exponents in the prime factorization are 2, 2, and 1. Adding one to each exponent and multiplying we get (2 + 1)(2 + 1)(1 + 1) = 3 × 3 × 2 = 18. Therefore 1548 has exactly 18 factors.
  • The factors of 1548 are outlined with their factor pair partners in the graphic below.

Factor Tree for 1548:

The last two digits of 1548 are a multiple of 4, so 1548 is divisible by 4.
1 + 5 + 4 + 8 = 18, a multiple of 9, so 1548 is divisible by 9.

Here’s how I used those two facts to make an autumn factor tree for 1548:

More about the Number 1548:

1548 is the difference of two squares in three different ways:
388² – 386² = 1548,
132² – 126² = 1548, and
52² – 34²  = 1548.


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