Depending on the questions you are investigating, there are many different values you might want to compute for each partition in your Markov chain. If you are interested in compactness, you might want to compute the area and perimeter of each part of the partition so that you can compute compactness scores. If you are interested in partisan lean, you might want to compute hypothetical election results using the districts defined by the partition.

The Partition class allows you to define custom properties for the partitions in your Markov chain. You can do this by providing a dictionary of updater functions when you first create a partition.

>>> from gerrychain import Partition, Graph
>>> graph = Graph()
>>> graph.add_edges_from([(0, 1), (1, 2), (2, 0)])
>>> assignment = {0: 1, 1: 1, 2: 2}
>>> def my_updater(partition):
...     return "Hello!"
>>> partition = Partition(graph, assignment, {"my_custom_property": my_updater})
>>> partition["my_custom_property"]
>>> partition.my_custom_property

As shown in this example, you can access the value of this updater using either the “attribute-style” syntax partition.my_custom_property or the “dictionary-style” syntax partition["my_custom_property"].

This partition and all subsequent partitions in the chain will have this my_custom_property attribute. If we flip a node in partition to create a new partition, we can still access this property:

>>> new_partition = partition.flip({1: 2})
>>> new_partition is not partition
>>> new_partition["my_custom_property"]

Useful updater functions in GerryChain

The gerrychain.updaters submodule provides some updaters for common tasks like aggregating data and computing the cut edges of a partition:

  • Tally: Aggregates a node attribute (e.g. population) over each part of the partition.
  • cut_edges: Returns the set of cut edges (edges whose nodes are in different parts of the partition) of the partition. This is required for most of the proposal functions in gerrychain.proposals.

Here is an example using both of these updaters:

>>> from gerrychain.updaters import cut_edges, Tally
>>> # We'll use a 2x2 grid graph:
>>> graph = Graph()
>>> graph.add_edges_from([(0, 1), (1, 2), (2, 3), (3, 0)])
>>> # Give each of the nodes population 100:
>>> for node in graph:
...     graph.nodes[node]["population"] = 100
>>> # Partition the grid into two halves:
>>> assignment = {0: 0, 1: 0, 2: 1, 3: 1}
>>> partition = Partition(
...     graph,
...     assignment,
...     updaters={"cut_edges": cut_edges, "population": Tally("population")}
... )
>>> partition["population"]
{0: 200, 1: 200}
>>> partition["cut_edges"]
{(1, 2), (0, 3)}

Our cut_edges updater returns a set of edges, each represented as a tuple of two nodes. Our population updater returns a dictionary mapping each part of the partition to the total population in that part. Since we divided our grid in half, we see parts 0 and 1 both have population 200.

Now when we create a new partition by flipping a node of partition, we see the values of the updaters change:

>>> new_partition = partition.flip({0: 1})
>>> new_partition["population"]
{0: 100, 1: 300}
>>> new_partition["cut_edges"]
{(1, 2), (0, 1)}

As we should expect, flipping node 0 into part 1 increases the population of part 1 to 300 and decreases the population of part 0 to 100. The cut edges of the new partition are both of the edges incident to node 1, since this is the last remaining node in part 0.

Writing your own updater function

When using GerryChain to experiment with new metrics, proposals, or acceptance rules, there usually comes a point when you need to implement a new updater. As we saw in the first example, an updater is a function that takes the partition as its argument and returns any type of value.

Let’s create an updater that returns the number of cut edges in the partition.

>>> def number_of_cut_edges(partition):
...     return len(partition["cut_edges"])

Note that this updater uses the value of the cut_edges updater in its computation. This is completely allowed! All you need to do is make sure that any updater that your updater depends on is included in the updaters dictionary that we pass to Partition. We also need to make sure that we have no cyclic depedencies: if the cut_edges updater also depended on number_of_cut_edges, we would fall into an infinite loop when we called either of them, resulting in a RuntimeError: maximum recursion depth exceeded error.

To try out our updater, we’ll use NetworkX to create a complete graph on 4 nodes, which we’ll partition in halves like the 2x2 grid. NetworkX is the graph library that GerryChain uses under the hood in its Graph class.

>>> import networkx
>>> graph = Graph(networkx.complete_graph(4))
>>> assignment = {0: 0, 1: 0, 2: 1, 3: 1}
>>> my_updaters = {"cut_edges": cut_edges, "number_of_cut_edges": number_of_cut_edges}
>>> partition = Partition(graph, assignment, my_updaters)

Now we can try out our custom number_of_cut_edges updater, and verify that its value changes when the partition changes:

>>> partition["number_of_cut_edges"]
>>> new_partition = partition.flip({0: 1})
>>> new_partition["number_of_cut_edges"]