Animate v.2004
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A History of Animate ANIMATE shows the DW-NOMINATE coordinates.

The original NOMINATE (for Nominal Three-Step Estimation) and D-NOMINATE (for Dynamic) algorithms were invented by Keith T. Poole and Howard Rosenthal and programmed by Poole in FORTRAN and Cyber FORTRAN. The motivation for the algorithms was to apply the random utility model of choice, developed by Nobel laureate Daniel McFadden, to the multidimensional spatial model of voting, developed by Rosenthal’s Carnegie Tech colleagues, Otto Davis and Melvin Hinich. Poole’s interest in scaling began with a course taught by his thesis supervisor, the late Richard McKelvey, at the University of Rochester. D-NOMINATE morphed into DW-NOMINATE in the mid 1990s.

D-NOMINATE was much too ambitious for mainframe computers in the 1980s. It became possible thanks to the NSF Supercomputer Initiative. Work took place both at Purdue and the John von Neumann Center at Princeton. Rosenthal programmed, in a FORTRAN program built around NOAA software, the first animation. The animation was put on video tape at the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Center. A clip from the original tape was included in a Smithsonian Institution exhibit of the history of supercomputing.

Almost as soon as the supercomputer animation had been completed, a Carnegie Mellon undergraduate, Douglas Skiba, was able to program ANIMATE in QuickBasic under DOS in the late 1980s. This program was severely limited by the memory limitations of DOS and ended with 1985 data. Skiba’s basic framework, however, became the basis for the VOTEVIEW and VOTEWORLD software used to look at individual roll calls. VOTEVIEW and VOTEWORLD have been the “baby” of Boris Shor, who began work while a Princeton undergraduate and continued until joining the faculty of the University of Chicago. The current version of ANIMATE has no memory constraints, is web based, and incorporates data through 2000. The project was launched when Michelle Thacher initiated an e-mail exchange with Howard Rosenthal after VOTEVIEW had been placed on student clusters at Brown.