Friday, March 26, 2010

Mathematical Genealogy

The Mathematics Genealogy Project records Ph. D. mathematicians and their thesis supervisors. Recently they've relaxed the "thesis supervisor" to include advisors of various sorts, which allows them to extend their records back to the Middle Ages.

Of course, I couldn't resist looking at my own record. (It's incomplete; they don't list 2 of my Ph. D. students.) Some of my supervisory ancestors include:

Saunders MacLane - 3
Hermann Weyl - 4
David Hilbert - 5
Felix Klein, Georg Frobenius, Lindemann - 6
Kummer, Weierstrass - 7
Jacobi, Dirichlet - 8
Fourier - 9
Gauss, Lagrange, Laplace - 10
Euler - 11
Leibniz - 14
Huygens - 15
Mersenne - 17
Copernicus - 23

Here the numbers indicate the number of links it takes to get to that person. Assuming that each student has shaken the hand of their supervisor, I find it neat to think that only 23 handshakes separate me from Copernicus. Of course, I'm not very special in this regard, as lots and lots of mathematicians have illustrious forbears. The database, for example, currently lists 53,775 descendants for Copernicus, or about 38% of all the people listed.

My wife's tree might even be more prestigious. She's got Newton at level 14, and Galileo at 17.

5 comments:

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos said...

Okay, so who is the most ancient mathematician about whom we know anything? Thales of Miletus, perhaps. Now we can start calculating our Thales number to accompany our Erdös number.

~~ Paul

James said...

Very impressive; my compliments! All I've got is a Feynman #1

Anonymous said...

How come Galileo is in the Genealogy project? Except Galileo's Paradox, most of his achievements were in Physics & Astronomy.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

There are some theologians in there, too. The horror!

Anonymous said...

(It's incomplete; they don't list 2 of my Ph. D. students.)

I assume you submitted their names using the form provided, right?