Sacramento State’s next STEM Scholars Lecture covers a timely subject on everyone’s mind. Mathematics and statistics Assistant Professor Jay Cummings will present “Counting on the Results: The Math of Elections” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, in the University Union, Redwood Room.

Many elections have ended in results that seem counterintuitive. Cummings’ lecture will focus on a handful of political contests that included some oddities, such as Ralph Nader’s role as spoiler in the 2000 presidential election. Most recently, Cummings asks, did a spoiler or the electoral system itself play a part in the election of President Donald Trump?

No advanced knowledge of mathematics is required to explore this phenomenon. Cummings also will look at how a simple theorem about election theory shook up political science, dismayed democracy purists, and won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Cummings earned his doctoral degree in mathematics from UC San Diego under distinguished mathematician Ron Graham. He conducts research in an area of mathematics called “combinatorics,” which is the study of discrete structures and involves counting, classification, and graphs.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) lectures are free, open to the public, and presented by the Center for Science and Math Success ( in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The center may also be contacted at (916) 278-2789. – Craig Koscho