The Math and History Behind House Representation

How many seats in the United States House of Representatives does each state get? To answer that question, Charles Biles, award-winning Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Humboldt State University, examines the math and politics that have shaped government and power from the founding of the country to the modern day.

In his new book, “The History of Congressional Apportionment”, published by the Humboldt State University Press, Biles explores the history, heated political fights, the people, and the math of congressional apportionments.

The book sheds light on the census and how people are “counted.” For example, slaves were not counted as a whole person, which affected the overall population count, representation, and the disenfranchisement of an entire population.

Biles uses his mathematical knowledge and insight to tell a flowing, evolutionary story—an interdisciplinary approach that stems from his research in mathematical modeling and the modeling of natural resource systems.

Through the lens of Congressional apportionment, this book adds another chapter to the rich story of American history and the people, politics, and debates that continuously shape the political system we have today.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, from 4-5 p.m., Biles will be giving a talk on “The Electoral College vs. The Popular Vote” at the HSU Library Scholars Lab. Voter registration materials will be available for those who want to take home a form or sign up on the spot.

About Humboldt State University Press

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For questions or more information about Humboldt State University Press, please contact HSU Scholarly Communications and Digital Scholarship Librarian, Kyle Morgan at or (707) 826-5602.