March 2017

March 2017 Meeting

March 15, 2017 | 12:00pm - 2:00pm

The 2016 Presidential Election: A Guide to the Perplexed Operations Researcher


The election of Donald Trump caused widespread shock, given the extremely-strong consensus that Hillary Clinton would win by a sizable margin in the national popular vote and by an even larger margin in the Electoral College. Pre-election polling suffered a huge share of the blame for the erroneous forecasts. But was the problem with the polls themselves, or with misconceptions about how to interpret the polling results? And can anything be done about the Electoral College, which reversed the popular-vote outcome in two of the last five elections and came exceedingly close to doing so in a third? We consider these questions, and then assess whether we are less perplexed about what happened or even more so.


 Arnie Barnett

Arnie Barnett

George Eastman Professor of Management Science, Professor of Statistics, MIT Sloan School of Management, Cambridge, MA

Arnold Barnett is George Eastman Professor of Management Science and Professor of Statistics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He holds a BA in Physics from Columbia University and a PhD in Mathematics from MIT. Dr. Barnett’s research specialty is applied statistical analysis generally focused on problems of health and safety. Aviation safety is among his primary areas of application: he has received the President’s Citation from the Flight Safety Foundation for “truly outstanding contributions on behalf of safety.” He has also worked with crime data, and his analysis of homicide risk was presented to President Ford at the White House. He has received the President’s Award and the Expository Writing Award from INFORMS , and the Blackett Lectureship from the Operational Research Society of the UK. A popular instructor, he has been honored 15 times for outstanding teaching at MIT.