Philosopher • Scholar • Scientist
Nowadays, there are many databases and digital tools to trace one’s academic lineage (e.g., the Mathematics Genealogy Project, the Academic Family Tree, or the Neurotree). Unfortunately, it is not always clear what underlying data sources they operate on. I was able to trace and verify the sources regarding my lineage up to Georg Ludwig König and Hermann Ulrici. From there on, it became uncertain: I couldn’t find out who supervised Ulrici’s thesis, and while there are many assertions that König was supervised by Christian Gottlob Heyne, I haven’t been able to verify this.^{1}
Interestingly enough, König himself worked for some time in Oldenburg, where – more than 200 years later – I did my doctorate. It’s a small world.
A concise definition of the Erdős number is given by Werner Balser: “One defines by mathematical induction: The Erdös number of famous Paul Erdös is 0. The Erdös number of any other person X is n+1 if there is Y whose Erdös number is n and X and Y have published a common paper, and if in addition no co-author Y of X has Erdös number less than n.”
My Erdős number is 6:
But see Don Stone’s “A Tentative Academic Lineage”, where Paul Gerhard Natorp is traced all the way back to Erasmus of Rotterdam and Nicolaus Copernicus. Stone, too, concedes that he has “not verified most of the information for the period before 1750.” ↩