Mathematical Modelling: A Tool for the Indecisive (aka me)


It’s time to apply for next semester’s housing back on my home campus.

My friend who’s also abroad and I were stressed about filling out the forms with our housing preferences. We both want to be living in singles, but we want to be in the same dorm. So much is riding on the results of this form!

Our conversations went something like:

–I’d love to live in Safford.

–But so would everyone else! So we probably won’t both get into Safford.

–What about 18? No one wants to live in 18. We should both get in there.

–Yuck. There is no way I want to live there.

–What do we do?!!

So I did what any normal person would do… I created a mathematical model to rank the dorms for us!

(I think I have officially reached a new level of geekiness.)

I made a very simple Excel model which took into account:

  1. How much we like a given dorm (on a scale of 0-5)
  2. The ratio of Single Rooms : Total Students Housed in the Dorm (as a percent, then normalized also on a scale of 0-5), and
  3. The popularity of a given dorm (Very popular = 0 points, sort of popular = 1 point, not popular = 2 points).

Add the values up, and voilà! All the dorms on campus are ranked for us with scores between 0 and 12.

The thing that was very cool about it is that the model actually put the dorms we were thinking we might apply for on top of the rankings. So we did!

And there were no more stressed-out conversations. You can’t argue with math. :)


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