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your dissertation family

Fabio

Here’s an interesting exercise – trace out your “heritage” via adviser/advisee relations. Mine is something like this:

Fabio Rojas –> Ross Stolzenberg –> Ed Laumann –> Talcott Parsons –> Edgar Salin –> ??

You can then ask about “dissertation relatives.” For example, Jeff Timberlake at Cincinnati is my “dissertation brother” because we had the same adviser.  Chris Browning at Ohio State, who had Ed Laumann as an adviser, is a “dissertation uncle.” My dissertation great-grandfather is Parsons.

You can have a weaker relation: “committee relatives.” You can be connected via any committee members, not just the chair/adviser. For example, the philosopher Karl Jaspers was also on Parsons’ committee, and as we all know, his best student was super-duper philosophy queen Hannah Arendt!! She is Fabio’s committee cousin, three times removed.

Drop your own dissertation family trees in the comments. You never know, we might be related!

Written by fabiorojas

May 15, 2007 at 1:13 am

Posted in academia, fabio, fun

20 Responses

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  1. Sociology, being a relatively new discipline, cannot do this as well as Philosophy or Mathematics. The Math Genealogy Project is a mine of data. Many math profs today can trace themselves back to, e.g., Carl Gauss. There’s a similar project in Philosophy. My wife’s genealogy, for instance, is in part: L.A Paul > David Lewis > W.V.O. Quine > A.N. Whitehead > J. McTaggart … etc.

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    Kieran

    May 15, 2007 at 2:30 am

  2. We’re closely related Fabio. Brayden King -> Joe Galaskiewicz -> Ed Laumann -> Talcott Parsons -> Edgar Salin. Given that Omar and I come from the same department, it’s not surprising that we’re cousins (of sorts). Ron Breiger, his chair, was on my committee.

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    brayden

    May 15, 2007 at 2:43 am

  3. Yeah, this can get kind of weird. Ron’s chair is of course Harrison White, who has two PhDs, one in Sociology (Princeton) and one in Theoretical Physics (MIT) (I have no clue as to who either of Harrison White’s advisers where) which means that I can conceivably trace my “lineage” to some early 20th century mathematical physicist.

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    Omar

    May 15, 2007 at 2:55 am

  4. In fact, since the creation of the Mathematics Genealogy Project, Leibniz’s descendants have accounted for approximately 40% of all members. I noticed the phenomenon when there were 25,000 entries. Now there are 110,000, but the proportion is still the same. I wonder if this will remain so, though statistical consideration should led me to believe that it shouldn’t. Some genealogy are truly impressive: I think a good deal of french math is spanned by Lagrange, Poisson, Chasles, Darboux, Borel, Valiron, Schwartz, Grothendieck, Illusie, Laumon, Lafforgue. My only regret is that I will never be able to play this game: my adviser is a lost child, entirely devoid of an adviser .

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    Z

    May 15, 2007 at 7:45 am

  5. Z – If I had continued on my original career track, my probable math adviser had a lineage going through classical topology (Moore) and then back through Poisson, and then Leibniz.

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    Fabio Rojas

    May 15, 2007 at 12:31 pm

  6. Leibniz is at the root of a lot of philosophical genealogies as well.

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    Kieran

    May 15, 2007 at 1:24 pm

  7. Mine seems to peter out after about 5 “generations.” Not sure if this is a function of selection of information on Google, or if one of my early forebearers didn’t have a PhD (and hence no PhD advisor). In late 1800’s sociology, it’s distinctly possible.

    One of my students has the dubious honor of incest in his family tree. I co-advised his thesis with my former advisor, so he’s really the child of his parent and grandparent. Eww.

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    kim

    May 15, 2007 at 3:17 pm

  8. Jacob Levy -> Amy Gutmann -> Judith Shklar -> Carl Friedrich -> Alfred Weber.

    Michael Walzer was also on Gutmann’s commitee (and might have been chair, I’m not certain); I think Walzer studied under Sam Beer.

    If we extend through the rest of my dissertation committee, through Jeremy Waldron I reach Ronald Dworkin and Joseph Raz, and thence H.L.A. Hart; through George Kateb, Herbert Deane. Farther than that the memory of wikipedia runneth not.

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    Jacob T. Levy

    May 15, 2007 at 4:50 pm

  9. I saw this link over at Jacob’s blog. Cool idea! The only problem is, I can only go back a couple of generations before I hit a wall: me > Stephen F. Schneck > Fred R. Dallmayr….and that’s it. Fred received his Ph.D. in political theory at Duke in 1960; I’d need to contact him (or ask Steve) if he knows who his advisor was. Stephen White was also on my committee; he received his Ph.D. at City University of New York in 1980. Who would have been his advisor there?

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    Russell Arben Fox

    May 15, 2007 at 8:17 pm

  10. This is a cool idea:
    OK, here’s my family:
    Nahshon Perez > Dan Avnon > Hanna Pitkin (who was her supervisor?)
    Through my committee:
    David Heyd > Stuart Hampshire.
    Yaron Ezrahi > who was his supervisor? (Harvard in the seventies).
    And although Avner de shalit and Ruth Gavison were not formal members of my committee, I think I can add them – having been a T.A. of both for so long…
    So: Avner de shalit > David Miller (who was his supervisor?)
    Ruth Gavison > H.L.A. Hart > (who was his supervisor?).

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    Nahshon Perez

    May 15, 2007 at 11:22 pm

  11. OK – I think my lineage is something a kin to: Hesterly (UCLA)->Ouchi (Chicago)->Blau->Merton…though, I need to look into this some more.

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    tf

    May 16, 2007 at 8:14 am

  12. And then Merton takes you back to Parsons.

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    brayden

    May 16, 2007 at 2:27 pm

  13. Thats what I thought…

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    tf

    May 16, 2007 at 3:50 pm

  14. The Liebniz relations, though, are awfully weak- it’s not as if he was anyone’s advisor, after all. They are more like “heavily influenced by” than anything else, and even that not directly, I think. Personally I’d get rid of them as not really up to standard.

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    Matt

    May 17, 2007 at 4:06 am

  15. Matt: Really, how do you know that? the Math geneaology project is strictly about advisers, not intellectual influence.

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    Fabio Rojas

    May 17, 2007 at 2:11 pm

  16. Nahshon Perez,
    Hanna Pitkin’s supervisor was Sheldon Wolin; I’m not sure, but my guess would be that his supervisor was either Carl Friedrich, or C.H. McIlwain; if the former, you’d therefore be ‘related’ to Jacob. H.L.A. Hart didn’t have a doctorate, so that’s as far back as it goes; I’m not sure about David Miller — I think his supervisor was either J.L. Mackie, or J.P. Plamenatz.
    As for me: IF I succesfully complete the doctoral work I’m hoping to do, I’ll also be able to trace my ‘descent’ back to the Weber-Friedrich Shklar line — also Stuart Hampshire, Quentin Skinner, and G.M. Trevelyan.

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    josh

    May 18, 2007 at 1:19 am

  17. Fabio,
    Leibniz never taught at a university (or, it seems, formally at all) and so he could not be anyone’s “advisor” in anything like the modern sense. He, I believed, tutored some people in the House of Hanover, where he spent most of his adult life, but not anyone of philosophical or mathematical note. The Math tree lists him as the ‘father’ of both Christian Wolff and Bernulli, but also has both taking their degrees from universities. Since Leibniz didn’t teach at one he obviously could not have been their advisors. I don’t think it’s even accurate to say he was a teacher of either person so much as, at most, a discussant. You might way that Wolff was his disciple, or that Wolff made himself a student of Leibniz in a way, but Leibniz certainly wasn’t his advisor in any formal sense at all.

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    Matt

    May 18, 2007 at 7:23 pm

  18. Thanks for the clarification, Matt. My sense is that the adviser system only really developed in the late 19th century, though I was willing to believe that maybe some of the German universities had an analog going back quite a bit. I wonder if your point has been brough up with the math geneaology people.

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    Fabio Rojas

    May 19, 2007 at 2:49 am

  19. I actually looked up a bit more on Wolff after I posted. I could not find as much information as I would have liked from the sources I had but it was pretty clear that he had his habilitation (SP?) before he had even met Leibniz and was already teaching. Bernulli apparently got his degree in Switzerland so certainly could not have studied w/ Leibniz for that but I don’t know any more on him in particular. Wolff did meet Leibniz shortly after he started teaching and was obviously very heavily influenced by him. About Bernulli I can’t say. (Leibniz’s own habilitation was directed by someone but was in law/jurisprudence, not math at all, so I don’t know if it’s right for the math people to go beyond him in the past, either.)

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    Matt

    May 19, 2007 at 4:07 am

  20. […] Us orgtheory guys probably have a common academic lineage if you go back far enough. […]

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