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Numbers Rule by George Szpiro

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CHAPTER TEN

THE IVY LEAGUERS

Frustrated and dispirited, politicians looking for solutions—not always mathematical, as often as not political—to the seemingly intractable problems of apportioning seats in Congress finally turned to a professional, Walter F. Willcox. Willcox, professor of social science and statistics in the department of philosophy at Cornell University, had been active in the census of 1900 and later became the Census Bureau’s chief statistician for population. He was instrumental in raising the debate about apportionment from the lowlands of politics to the realms of science.

The Census Bureau had been established very recently. At the outset, in 1790, the first census had been conducted by U.S. Marshals and for the next one ...

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