Publications

2004
Smith M. Dspace for e-print archives. 2004;9 :3.
Altman M. Software. In: Kempf-Leonard K Encyclopedia of Social Measurement. New York: Academic Press ; 2004. pp. 569–579. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The use of software in social science research is extensive and wide-ranging. Software is used at every stage of the research process – from collecting, organizing, and analyzing information, to writing and disseminating results. The mathematically demanding nature of modern statistical analysis makes the use of relatively sophisticated statistical software a prerequisite for almost all of quantitative research. Moreover, the combination of increasingly powerful computers, ubiquitous computer networks, and the widespread availability of the software necessary to take advantage of both, have made practical on a hitherto unprecedented scale the application of many complex methods such as maximum likelihood estimation, agent-based modeling, analytic cartography, experimental economics.
Altman M. Statistical Package. In: Lewis-Beck M, Bryman AE, Liao TF Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc. ; 2004. pp. 1078–1080. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Statistical Packages are collections of software designed to aid in statistical analysis and data exploration. The vast majority of quantitative and statistical analysis relies upon statistical packages for their execution. An understanding of statistical packages is essential to correct and efficient application of many quantitative and statistical methods.
Altman M. Point, Click and Vote: The Future of Internet Voting (book review). Journal of E-Government [Internet]. 2004;1 :129–133. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Internet Voting has given rise to considerable controversy, underscored by the recent cancellation of this year’s trial of SERVE, which was to provide Internet Voting for 100,000 military personnel. Could Internet voting promote deliberative democracy? Would Internet voting increase voter participation and engagement? Would it increase the accuracy of the reported vote? Would it improve people's trust in the electoral process? Is current Internet technology capable of supporting secure voting? In Point, Click, and Vote, Alvarez and Hall argue that remote Internet Voting, in which voters are permitted to register and vote in elections via any Internet-connected computer, could solve many of the pressing problems with U.S. elections.
Altman M. Miller v Johnson. Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court [Internet]. 2004 :286–287. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In Miller v. Johnson a five-member majority of the court declared that redistricting is presumptively unconstitutional when race has served as the predominant factor in the drawing of district lines. However, there remains significant uncertainty in how to apply this new standard and an apparent conflicts with the standards articulated in Shaw v. Reno and Vera v. Bush.
2003
Altman M, Gill J, McDonald M. Numerical issues in statistical computing for the social scientist. New York: John Wiley & Sons; 2003. Publisher's VersionAbstract
A great many empirical researchers in the social sciences take computational factors for granted: For the social scientist, software is a tool, not an end in itself. Although there is an extensive literature on statistical computing in statistics, applied mathematics, and embedded within various natural science fields, there is currently no such guide tailored directly to the needs of the social sciences. There is also an abundance of package-specific literature, and a small amount of work at the basic, introductory level. What is lacking is a text that gives social scientists modern tools, tricks, and advice, yet remains accessible through explanation and example. The overall purpose of this work is to address what we see as a serious deficiency in statistical work in the social and behavioral sciences, broadly defined. Quantitative researchers in these fields rely upon statistical and mathematical computation as much as any of their colleagues in the natural sciences, yet there is less appreciation for the problems and issues in numerical computation. This book seeks to rectify this discrepancy by providing a rich set of monographs on important aspects of social science statistical computing that will guide empirical social scientists past the traps and mines of modern statistical computing.
Altman M, McDonald MP. Replication with Attention to Numerical Accuracy. Political Analysis [Internet]. 2003;11 :302–307. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Numerical issues matter in statistical analysis. Small errors occur when numbers are translated from paper and pencil into the binary world of computers. Surprisingly, these errors may be propagated and magnified through binary calculations, eventually producing statistical estimates far from the truth. In this replication and extension article, we look at one method of verifying the accuracy of statistical estimates by running these same data and models on multiple statistical packages. We find that for two published articles, Nagler (1994, American Journal of Political Science 38:230-255) and Alvarez and Brehm (1995, American Journal of Political Science 39:1055-1089), results are dependent on the statistical package used. In the course of our replications, we uncover other pitfalls that may prevent accurate replication, and make recommendations to ensure the ability for future researchers to replicate results.
2002
Altman M. {A review of JMP 4.03 with special attention to its numerical accuracy}. American Statistician [Internet]. 2002;56 :72–75. Publisher's VersionAbstract
JMP is the SAS institute's package for exploratory data analysis. JMP offers a plethora of features ... Exploratory data analysis with JMP is extraordinarily e asy and powerful, because of three design decisions that distinguish it from all of its competitors \^{}E [however] the module supplied for non-linear regression a nd maximum likelihood is numerically unreliable.
Altman M. A Bayesian approach to detecting electoral manipulation. Political Geography [Internet]. 2002;21 :39–48. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Gerrymandering involves careful drawing of constituency boundaries by a party so that either it wins a particular seat or, more generally, it wins more seats than its opponents. Have gerrymanders advantaged one party over another, and to what extent? What would the electoral results have been had parties not attempted to influence the districting process? We cannot adequately answer this question without an analysis of counterfactuals, in other words, without (implicitly or explicitly) comparing alternative hypotheses explaining these election results and the predictions generated by these hypotheses. How do we formalize this evaluation? This paper lays out a simple formal framework for analyzing these counterfactuals.
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Altman M, McDonald MP. {Choosing Reliable Statistical Software}. PS Political Science Politics [Internet]. 2002;34 :681–687. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Should we trust the results of our statistical software? We evaluate number of statistical packages, and combine these evaluations with previous research by others.
2001
Altman M, Andreev L, Diggory M, King G, Sone A, Verba S, Kiskis DL, Krot M. A digital library for the dissemination and replication of quantitative social science research: the Virtual Data Center. Social Science Computer Review [Internet]. 2001;19 :458–470. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Virtual Data Center software is an open-source, digital library system for quantitative data. The authors discuss what the software does, how it provides an infrastructure for the management and dissemination of distributed collections of quantitative data, and the replication of results derived from these data.
Altman M. Open source software for libraries: from Greenstone to the Virtual Data Center and beyond. IASSIST Quarterly [Internet]. 2001;25 :5–11. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The growth of OSS has gained the attention of research librarians [Frumkin, 2002] and created new opportunities for libraries. We might well ask: What distinguishes OSS from commercial software? What are the advantages and disadvantages of OSS software? Out of the thousands of packages available, which are most useful in a library environment?
2000
Altman M. Battles That Shaped the Computer Industry (Book Review). Law and Politics Book Review [Internet]. 2000;10 :217–220. Publisher's VersionAbstract
How should Judge Jackson have ruled in the United States v. Microsoft antitrust case? Should search engines be liable for infringement if they link to copyrighted materials? Are the "cookies" stored in the web-browsers of government officials part of the public record? Is cryptographic software actually "speech" protected by the first amendment? Legal questions arising from computer and information law are increasingly common, and increasingly political. In Legal Battles, Lawrence Graham outlines some of the significant legal cases that have shaped the development of the computer industry, and which set the background to these more current questions...
Altman M. Race, Redistricting, and Representation: The Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts (Book Review). American Political Science Review [Internet]. 2000;94 :717–718. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Canon's findings are of immediate and lasting importance. The variety of data sources and research methods marshaled in support of these findings is impressive, as is the effort that the author invests in data collection and coding. Race, Redistricting and Representation should be required reading for anyone with an interest in the linkage between representatives and their constituencies.
1999
Altman M, McDonald MP. Resources for the Testing and Enhancement of Statistical Software. The Political Methodologist [Internet]. 1999;9 :12–14. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We offer recommendations to help users of statistical software avoid the pitfalls of computational abstractions and offer guidelines to aid replication.
1998
Altman M. Districting principles and democratic representation. [Internet]. 1998. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Redistricting is always political, increasingly controversial, and often ugly. Politicians fought have always fought tooth-and-nail over district lines, while the courts, for most of their history, considered the subject a thicket too political even to enter. Three decades ago the courts finally entered the political thicket, ruling in Baker v. Carr (1962) that redistricting was justiciable. A decade ago, the court showed signs that it wanted to chop the thicket down, ruling in Davis v. Bandemer (1986) that partisan gerrymanders were actionable. But, in fact, few suits followed this potentially momentous decision. Just five years ago, however, the court took its ax to the thicket in earnest: In a line of cases starting with Shaw v. Reno in 1993, and continuing through the 1996-97 term of court in Avery v. Johnson (1997), the Court has made a strong bid to outlaw what it terms "racial gerrymandering." In this attempt to eliminate gerrymandering the court has placed an extreme emphasis on what they term "traditional districting principles," primarily formal, measurable criteria such as population equality, compactness, and contiguity. This extreme emphasis threatens to radically change the redistricting process in the United States. Justice Souter, in a dissent in Vera in which Justices Ginsburg and Breyer joined, argued that the logic of the Shaw line of cases can lead only to one of two outcomes: Either "the Court could give primacy to the principle of compactness," or it could radically change traditional districting practice – eliminating it or "replacing it with districting on some principle of randomness..." In this dissertation, I examine "traditional districting principles," and their implications for representation. I am motivated by, and attempt to answer, the following questions: What theories of representation are implicit in the Court's recent line of cases? Where do "traditional districting principles" come from, and are they really traditional? Are the formal standards that the Court wishes to adopt judicially manageable? Are they theoretically consistent? What effect will using these principles have on politics? Can we eliminate politics in redistricting by automating the process?
Altman M. Modeling the effect of mandatory district compactness on partisan gerrymanders. Political Geography [Internet]. 1998;17 :989–1012. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Geographic compactness standards have been offered as neutral and effective standards constraining redistricting. In this paper, we test this allegation. Redistricting is treated as a combinatoric optimization problem that is constrained by compactness rules. Computer models are used to analyze the results of applying compactness standards when political groups are geographically concentrated. Several population models are used to generate populations of voters, and arbitrary plans are created with combinatoric optimization algorithms. We find that compactness standards can be used to limit gerrymandering, but only if such standards require severe compactness. Compactness standards are not politically neutral-a geographically concentrated minority party will be affected by compactness standards much differently than a party supported by a geographically diffuse population. The particular effects of compactness standards depend on the institutional mechanism that creates districts.
Altman M. Traditional Districting Principles: Judicial Myths Vs . Reality. Social Science History [Internet]. 1998;22 :159–200. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The courts have become increasingly willing to examine the shape and composition of districts. In the most recent decision of the Supreme Court Miller v. Johnson, the court emphasized that following "traditional" districting principles such as compactness, contiguity and respect for political subdivisions, may serve as "compelling state interests" sufficient to justify race-based redistricting. In this chapter, I examine congressional districts between 1789 and 1993 to determine whether compactness, contiguity and equal popuation are, indeed, "traditional districting principles" in the U.S.
1997
Altman M. Is automation the answer: The computational complexity of automated redistricting. Rutgers Computer and Law Technology Journal [Internet]. 1997;23 :81–141. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Automated redistricting has been proposed as a method for eliminating gerrymandering and promoting electoral fairness. While much optimism has been expressed about the feasibility and benefits of automated redistricting, results have fallen far short of these expectations. In this paper, I examine the benefits claimed for automated redistricting, particularly in light of the incentives it generates for strategic behavior. As part of this analysis I evaluate the computational complexity of the redistricting problem by showing the equivalence of the redistricting problem to a set of formal problems in computer science and operations research. I show that for many cases optimal redistricting is computationally hard, and is likely to be intractable. The intractability of optimal redistricting has important implications for both the feasibility and desirability of automated redistricting. In particular, computational complex problems offer opportunites for procedural manipulation that have been ignored by proponents of automated redistricting. I explore the most important of these opportunities.
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