Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Mathematics Genealogy Project

In which the below mentioned is about the above mentioned

The Mathematics Genealogy Project is one of those internet curiosities that are worth visiting from time to time. The algorithm is fairly simple.

   ∀x|x∈M(the set of all doctorates in mathematics)
   find x's adviser

For example, take Ludwig's onetime roommate. Boy is widely recognized to be very, very, very smart (Maths Olympiad medalist smart) and his dissertation on the Smoothed Analysis of Gaussian Elimination is of suitably overwhelming obscurity, befitting boy's pedigree. Follow boy's academic ancestry.

One passes through a few generations of unknown (but doubtless worthy) names, until the first tentative signs of recognition occur at Marvin Minsky. After a brief detour into Minsky, we move on.

Somewhere at the turn of the last century, the geography shifts to Europe - sometimes to France, more commonly to Germany. Also, the names start becoming a whole lot more familiar (Klein 1 2, he of bottle fame, for example. Further, see here for a very funny cartoon, one that should join the ranks of the jokes here).

From the mid nineteenth century onwards, the names are all scarily familiar. Scary mostly because you've heard these names in various classes before, and now nothing - nothing - comes back.

Eventually, it is very likely that you will end up at the very obscure (hitherto unheard of, in fact) Herr Erhard Weigel. Why, you ask? How, is it possible, you wonder?

The reason is not hard to seek.

Erhard begat Gottfried
And Gottfried begat Jacob, (en passant, he also begat the calculus)
And Jacob begat Johann (which sounds very odd, because they were in fact siblings)
And Johann begat Leo, and ay there's the rub.

From Euler, it's hoppity-skippity-hop and suddenly we're spitting out the Gods of mathematics. Euler is Lagrange's mai baap and Fourier (of transform fame) and Poisson (of distribution fame) were the apples of Lagrange's eyes.

As the image on the homepage suggests, there's another path through this tree, which leads via Klein to Gauss. Indeed, if the tree/graph were a railway network, Klein would be Mathura.

Go on. Head over to the project, and find out how your mathematics Ph. D. buddy is a descendant of Mencke or Weigel. It's an utterly absorbing pastime, we assure you.


blackmamba said...

nice! should add - people with CS (theory) Phd buddies can also find their (buddies') genealogy.

btw, that IRFCA site has more interesting info for laypeople like yours truly - hmm

Ludwig said...

[blackmamba] Yes, you're very right, of course. CS theory types intersect heavily with the mathematics types.

IRFCA is the mother lode. Endless hours of timepass. Note however that there seems to be a mismatch between the culinary reality on the railway platform and the one on the webpage.

One finds lately that ever since the privatization of the catering setup (IRCTC etc.), the food on IR has become uniformly insipid and uninteresting.

When they print "Trains at a Glance" with the price of every item at the beginning of the year, your soul should cringe. The average railway station has become utterly bare as far as eatables are concerned.

Yack. We feel very passionately about this, as you can see...

Rakesh said...

Nice. Very, actually. Especially the begat part. Maths and I, of course, parted ways once my Mamu decided he had better use for his muscles. But I know my tables, but why do you need to know is more than ....

I would be seriously offended if you do not look up my blog. 'Got some specimens there that I kinda fancy. You fancy? Lemme know!

blackmamba said...

ludo, what is one to say. all this under laloo. deeply saddened.

one's trips via Palakkad have always meant banana bajjis, Mysore dosas, ... will appa eagerly laps up the railway timetable, we were focused on lapping up other things. Do they atleast serve chamba ari with the meals?

sympathy, empathy.

blackmamba said...

uff.. while not will.
and, do they atleast serve chamba ari in stations in kerala?

Ludwig said...

[rakesh] you are the small hirsute moderately pestilential Rakesh, no? not the other one in England? i think not.

i had no idea your blogs were thriving. all 2 of them. most interesting. Baby Boo is fantastically cute. and thanks for "After Apple Picking". very evocative of my lost life in New England, nay in Amherst, where Frost lived and taught.

[blackmamba] we are clueless as to the availability of chamba ari in Malluland stations! but we shall make it a point to inquire on our next trip (Jan?).

sympathy, empathy, boopathy only.

kbpm said...

cool stuff! if only i had had the sense to do math, i could have claimed linkages with all these cool dudes. instead i get to say Schmidt and Smith (without even a P at the front :-() and Fogler. Duh.

Ludwig said...

[kbpm] hear ya. although i'm sure if somebody came up with a chem genealogy project, you will surely end up being a child of i dunno Dalton or Davy or Avogadro or something, no? Kenny - greatgreatgreatgreat...greatgranddaughter of Berzelius! think of that.

kbpm said...

thanks ludwig for your faith in my geneology. It would be interesting to see if my entire family consists of jerks or just the recent generations. :-)

yolkz- a special drink attributed to ancient scientists, consists of egg yolk and seltzer. guaranteed to result in pathbreaking research findings within an hour of imbibing, or your money back..