Math Improves Campus Social Life


On average, about 63 percent of Davidson women participate in eating houses.

Professor of Mathematics Laurie Heyer and a small group of students from her “Mathematical Modeling” course developed a sophisticated algorithm to maximize overall satisfaction with the results of eating house placement for women. At Davidson, women can choose to participate in the social and service-based eating house system, and any interested woman is guaranteed placement into one of the college’s four houses.

Until Heyer and her students developed the algorithm, women were placed into houses through a basic lottery system, and many ended up in their last-choice houses. This led to volatile membership and low morale. Since implementing the algorithm in 2004, women rarely are placed in their third- and fourth-choice houses, with most being placed into their first- and second-choice houses.


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