Proposal for a Physics PhD Genealogy project


It would be nice to see how we physicists are related through our PhD advisor ancestry. One could learn the other students that had the same advisor as oneself, and those who had the same grand-advisor. Two physicists could learn whether they had a common ancestor and who else was in the line of relationship. This seems like a personal way to increase our awareness of the history of the field as it relates to them.

Proposal is implemented!

August 2010 this site seems to do all I had hoped for. But at this writing it is very sparcely filled. I hope others will be motivated to enter themselves and their advisors into the tree.

Related project at APS Centennial

During its cententennial celebration a few years back the American Physical Society sponsored genealogy project. It held a contest. Contestents submitted their own PhD family trees. The winner was Prof. Steven Sibener, and his winning entry is here in PDF form. It has many people mentioned but it is far from the complete tree of physics PhDs.

Fall 2004, American Mathematical Society genealogy

This fall I learned that the kind of web-made data base I have in mind already exists for math PhDs. It now has over 80,000 people listed in it. It seems that it could be easily adapted to physics. Here is a typical record. Hopefully authors of this project would be willing to give us their programs to adapt. But this math project also requires considerable human processing. It has a director, an associate director and two part-time student data managers.

Would your department or company or institute be interested in taking on the running of this project as a volunteer activity? If so, send email.

My old ideas about implementation

The paragraphs and figure below suggest a technical way to implement a self-generating genealogy. It is not so different from the AMS version mentioned above. But clearly the easiest path to follow is to adapt the AMS version.