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Andy Lewis-Pye: the strange patterns of segregation

Lewis-Pye, Andrew (2015) Andy Lewis-Pye: the strange patterns of segregation. Maths at LSE (18 Jun 2015). Website.

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In 1969, the economist Thomas Schelling was seeking to understand some of the game theoretic considerations underlying the kind of racial segregation observed in large American cities at that time. Using only a chequerboard and some zinc and copper coins, he ran a simple experiment, known as the Schelling Segregation Model (chequerboard – SSM). With the coins originally randomly distributed on the board, he supposed that each coin might be satisfied in its present location so long as at least half of the coins in adjacent squares were of its own type (zinc or copper). Then he took each coin in turn, and moved those unsatisfied coins to the nearest position in which they would be satisfied, leaving satisfied coins where they were. This process of taking each coin in turn was repeated until no further moves were possible. What he observed might initially be considered rather surprising: while each individual would be happy in quite a mixed environment, the global structure which emerges is one in which large segregated regions appear, i.e. large clusters of individuals all of one type. For Schelling this provided evidence of a recurrent theme in his research: that the actions of individuals behaving according to their own locally-defined interests can lead to global results which are undesired by all.

Item Type: Online resource (Website)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2015 13:26
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2021 23:21

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