Journal Article (Journal Article)

We develop a Metropolized Multiscale Forest Recombination Markov Chain on redistricting plans. The chain is designed to be usable as the proposal in a Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm. Sampling the space of plans amounts to dividing a graph into a partition with a specified number of elements each of which corresponds to a different district according to a specified probability measure. The districts satisfy a collection of hard constraints, and the probability measure may be weighted with regard to a number of other criteria. The multiscale algorithm is similar to our previously developed Metropolized Forest Recombination proposal; however, this algorithm provides improved scaling properties and may also be used to preserve nested communities of interest such as counties and precincts. Both works use a proposal which extends the ReCom algorithm [D. DeFord, M. Duchin, and J. Solomon, Harvard Data Sci. Rev., (2021)] which leveraged spanning trees to merge and split districts. In this work, we extend the state space so that each district is defined by a hierarchy of trees. In this sense, the proposal step in both algorithms can be seen as a “Forest ReCom.” The collection of plans sampled by the MCMC algorithm can serve as a baseline against which a particular plan of interest is compared. If a given plan has different racial or partisan qualities than what is typical of the collection of plans, the given plan may have been gerrymandered and is labeled as an outlier. Metropolizing relative to a policy driven probability measure removes the possibility of algorithmically inserted biases.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Autry, EA; Carter, D; Herschlag, GJ; Hunter, Z; Mattingly, JC

Published Date

  • January 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 19 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 1885 - 1914

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1540-3467

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1540-3459

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1137/21M1406854

Citation Source

  • Scopus