Most of the world's mathematicians belong to one of 24 "scientific" families, connections based on teacher-pupil lineages rather than blood, the oldest of which goes back six centuries, according to an analysis of the Mathematics Genealogy Project (MGP) by European researchers and covered recently in Nature News.
Hosted by North Dakota State University in Fargo, the MGP contains more than 200,000 entries of mathematicians both living and dead. The massive genealogy catalog includes anyone who received a doctorate in mathematics, according to the MGP's website, with each entry documenting, when available, information regarding the name of the alma mater for each degree recipient, the year in which the degree was awarded, the title of the dissertion and name(s) of any advisor(s).
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This isn't simply a who's who in the wide world of advanced mathematics. To the team of European researchers analyzing the MGP in EPJ Data Science , the project constructs a family tree that records not only generations of mathematicians but also the evolution of the discipline over time.
So who exactly are the founders of these mathematical families? Where are they from?
"The largest family is the one originated in 1415 by the Italian medical doctor, Sigismondo Polcastro," write the authors of the EPJ Data Science study. "The second one, is the family originated by the Russian mathematician Ivan Petrovich Dolby, at the end of the 19th century." French mathemetician Jean le Rond d'Alembert, German philosopher Friedrich Leibniz and English doctor Henry Bracken round out the top five.
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