The Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) brings together faculty and students to make sense of “big data”—information characterized by tremendous volume, variety, and rapid change. The iiD is the cornerstone of the Information, Society, and Culture theme of Bass Connections, another Duke initiative that encourages student-faculty collaboration on issues of global importance.
Duke received an anonymous $6.67 million gift that leveraged matching funds from Bass Connections for a total of $9.75 million. The sum will endow iiD professorships, graduate fellowships in engineering, and educational programs on data-driven problem-solving.
Math department chair Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn ’14 collaborated on an innovative iiD project, developing a mathematical model that shows how tweaks to North Carolina’s gerrymandered congressional voting districts could affect election outcomes. The researchers calculated possible outcomes of the 2012 U.S. House of Representatives elections by redrawing the state’s districts with nonpartisan boundaries. Not once in 100 attempts did they get the split of Democratic and Republican seats seen in the actual election. The researchers hope the study will bolster calls for redistricting reform.