Crowdsourced department ranking January 13, 2011Posted by Ben Webster in math life.
So, I was reading The Monkey Cage this morning, and happened upon a post about crowdsourcing rankings of political science and sociology departments. Basically, there’s a website that lets you put in an arbitrary list of options (which it somewhat unfortunately insists on calling “ideas”) and gives the internet as a whole to vote on them pairwise. Of course, the next step was obvious (and while, yes, it was procrastination, in my defense it was actually incredibly easy), so I set up such a listing for math departments. If you have nothing better to do with your time, you can go and vote a bit. You can also see the results, though of course, at the moment they are pretty meaningless (not that they won’t be meaningless after lots of people vote, but I think at the moment, some schools have received no votes either way).
Before anybody complains about the schools listed: I just took the listing of graduate programs in mathematics in the United States and Canada from the Notable Math Wiki. Obviously, it was a little unfortunate to have to be so nationalistic (continentalistic?) but otherwise, I think the overwhelming number of pairs for anyone would have been two schools they had never heard of. If somebody else wants to set up an option for schools in different parts of the world, of course, they are free.
EDIT: I decided the full list was just too unwieldy; I eliminated all the schools whose “score” (roughly their probability of being liked better than a random school) was below 40 (though, of course, the remaining ones are going to spread out now). Interestingly, the results are not nearly as “conventional wisdom” as I expected; Northwestern is a lovely school, but I don’t think many would rank it above Harvard, MIT, and Princeton as it is at the time of writing. If that’s a statistical fluke, presumably it will go away a lot faster now, as the remaining schools will get voted on more often.