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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Even though these individuals had many descendants, they didn't necessarily make great contributions to the field of mathematics individually, but are the earliest "parents" in the lineage. Polcastro was a physician. d'Alembert also dabbled in physics, philosophy and music. Bracken wrote about horses.

Overall, the analysis identified 84 families, 24 of which covered 65 percent of the mathematicians indexed by the MGP. The database still skews toward American scholars, but the project's creators are hoping to expand its archive for a more global perspective.

**SEE PHOTOS: Math Artist Finds Beauty in Equations**** **

Don't try to tell my seventh grader this, but the truth is that math is beautiful. That's the thesis sentiment behind the work of Iranian artist Hamid Naderi Yeganeh, who uses his own custom-coded computer programs to transform mathematical equations into gorgeous works of line art. Yeganeh, a 25-year-old mathematics student at the University of Qom in Iran, has generated thousands of images using his unique computational techniques. He recently sent a batch to DNews along with some thoughts on his process -- let's take a look.

“I started to create mathematical images by computer programs in 2012,” Yeganeh says in an email to DNews. “At first, I was interested to make beautiful images by using basic mathematical concepts such as line segments, circles, trigonometric functions, etc.”

Yeganeh uses different methods to produce images. His first program, which he still uses today, is designed to output thousands of images generated by specific equations employing a series of variables. Yeganeh culls through the output images to find interesting designs.

“After a while, I understood that I can find some interesting mathematical shapes that resemble real things such as animals or sailboats,” Yeganeh says. “In order to find such shapes, I tried to test many formulas by computer programs.”

Yeganeh later developed a technique that offers a little more control, at the cost of a good deal more work on the mathematics end. He chooses a specific image -- a butterfly, say -- then tries to work out which formula will produce the desired picture.

Or, for instance, when Yeganeh wanted to generate some images of leaves and branches, he came up with a series of potential equations that eventually yielded several different kinds of pictures. Here we see his image titled, simply, Palm Branch.

The captions for Yeganeh's images can be an adventure, if you speak math. For “Olive Branch,” another in the series, the caption reads: “This image shows 4,000 circles. For k=1,2,3,...,4000 the center of the k-th circle is (X(k), Y(k)) and the radius of the k-th circle is R(k), where X(k)=(2k/4000)+(1/28)sin(42πk/4000)+(1/9)(sin(21πk/4000))8+(1/4)(sin(21πk/4000))6sin((2π/5)(k/4000)12), Y(k)=(1/4)(k/4000)2+(1/4)((sin(21πk/4000))5+(1/28)sin(42πk/4000))cos((π/2)(k/4000)12), R(k)=(1/170)+(1/67)(sin(42πk/4000))2(1-(cos(21πk/4000))4).”

In honor of Pi Day -- March 14 (3.14) -- Yeganeh created this image of everyone's favorite mathematical constant, created from 2,000 circles. “Pi is an international number,” Yeganeh writes in his

. “This number can be a symbol of peace between nations.”

Yeganeh sometimes likes to set up particular challenges for himself. Since the human face has historically been a traditional subject for art, he created the image above using 12,000 circles.

Part of a series of images inspired by the continents, this tessellation image is created with a Northern America-like pentadecagon (15-sided polygon) and a South America-like pentagon. “Also, the complex number (1/2)^(1/8)*e^(2πi/8) plays an important role in this tessellation,” Yeganeh adds. Yeah, I was just gonna say. You can see more of Yeganeh's math-inspired art on his

. Now if I can just get him to start e-mailing with my seventh grader.