Posted on 22 August 2011

The Mathematics Genealogy Project is an online service that lets you explore the academic lineage of mathematicians and those in related areas such as engineering. Using it, I discovered that I descend from Hermann von Helmholtz, famous for his work in acoustics (and a whole lot of other stuff).

It is interesting to see how thesis topics evolve from advisor to advisee, yet my research area -- music information retrieval -- is not so removed from Helmholtz's work on acoustics; in fact, MIR scholars still cite and recognize his contributions!

Here are the people that make up my lineage since Helmholtz, each person's dissertation title, place of graduate study, and graduation year.

  1. Hermann von Helmholtz, De fabrica systematis nervosi evertebratorum, Universitaet Berlin, 1842.
  2. Edward Leamington Nichols, Ueber das von gluehendem Platin ausgestrahlte Licht: Ein Beitrag zur allgemeinen Ausstrahlungslehr, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, 1879.
  3. Ernest Fox Nichols, Radiometric Researches in the Remote Infra-Red Spectrum, Cornell, 1897.
  4. Frederic Columbus Blake, The Reflection and Transmission of Electric Waves by Screens of Resonators and by Grids, Columbia, 1906.
  5. William Littell Everitt, The Calculation and Design of Alternating Current Networks Employing Triodes Operating During a Portion of a Cycle, Ohio State, 1933.
  6. Karl Ralph Spangenberg, The Effect of Grid Current Flow Upon the Dynamic Characteristics of Vacuum Tube Power, Ohio State, 1937.
  7. Willis Harman, Tunable Waveguide Cavity Resonators for Broadband Operation of Reflex Klystrons, Stanford, 1948.
  8. John Bowman Thomas, On the Statistical Design of Demodulation Systems for Signals in Additive Noise, Stanford, 1955.
  9. Kung Yao, On Some Representations and Sampling Expansions for Band Limited Signals, Princeton, 1965.
  10. K. J. Ray Liu, Efficient and Reliable Parallel Processing Algorithms and Architectures for Modern Signal Processing, UCLA, 1990.
  11. Steve Tjoa, Sparse and Nonnegative Factorizations for Music Understanding, Maryland, 2011.