Polsby-Popper Test

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The Polsby-Popper Test is a mathematical compactness measure of a shape developed to quantify the degree of gerrymandering of political districts. The method was developed by lawyers Daniel D. Polsby and Robert Popper, though it had earlier been introduced in the field of paleontology by E.P. Cox.[1] The formula for calculating a district's Polsby-Popper score is , where is the district, is the perimeter of the district, and is the area of the district.[2] A district's Polsby-Popper score will always fall within the interval of , with a score of indicating complete lack of compactness and a score of indicating maximal compactness.[3] Compared to other measures that use dispersion to measure gerrymandering, the Polsby-Popper test is very sensitive to both physical geography (for instance, convoluted coastal borders) and map resolution.[4] The method was chosen by Arizona's redistricting commission in 2000.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cox, E.P. 1927. "A Method of Assigning Numerical and Percentage Values to the Degree of Roundness of Sand Grains." Journal of Paleontology 1(3): pp. 179-183
  2. ^ Crisman, Karl-Dieter, and Jones, Michael A. The Mathematics of Decisions, Elections, and Games pg. 3
  3. ^ Miller, William J., and Walling, Jeremy D. The Political Battle Over Congressional Redistricting pg. 345
  4. ^ Ansolabehere, Stephen, and Palmer, Maxwell A Two Hundred-Year Statistical History of the Gerrymander pp. 6-7
  5. ^ Monorief, Gary F. Reapportionment and Redistricting in the West pg. 27