The EU parliament has 736 seats for about 500 million people. How should the number of seats be allocated to the various countries?
At the moment an ‘ad hoc’ system is used.
Do you think the distribution is fair?
It’s a perfect problem for mathematicians to get their teeth into, but the experts in this case were not allowed to let their mathematical expertise run away with them. There were three non-mathematical constraints to ensure the solution is practicable. “The first was that the system should be durable with respect to changes in size and shape of the EU,” says Grimmett. “The second was that it should be transparent, we should be able to explain it to people. And the third was that the system should be impartial to politics, it shouldn’t favour particular groups or nations. We discussed a variety of different methods and decided unanimously that there was one method which met the constraints better than all the others.”
To see which system the mathematicians suggested to EU, read here.