Thanksgiving Post: Naaman’s Academic Ancestors

I am told that Thanksgiving is not just about eating (I’ve grown to really like Thanksgiving food) but also football. And family competitions. Oh, and (at least American) ancestry. Which is funny, because this week I discovered that my academic ancestry can be traced back to the late 1600s or even earlier.

Yes, I am an academic now, I am allowed to be interested in these things.

My academic grandfather, Gio Wiederhold, has been maintaining a (up-and-down) tree on his page, meaning we can examine his academic decedents as well as his ancestors. Recently, Panos (who is behind the enemy lines) also published a slightly better-formatted version of the tree, going back in time (no decendents yet). Panos is an academic “nephew” of mine – did I just made up a new concept? – his academic grandfather was my advisor, which means we share most of our tree…

What do we learn from the tree? Horrible truths. Well, at least one: turns out my lineage includes a relative recent component of Ayman’s own school! Northwestern’s Carl Porter Duncan (4 generations back), was a psychology professor at Northwestern. Duncan was the PhD advisor of John Amsden Starkweather (three generations), who was Gio’s advisor and the first in my lineage to work on “computer science” topics (at the Departmet of Psychiatry in UCSF).

It’s not surprising that my roots are in psychology given that computer science did not exist as a field before, say, the 1950s (information science in some forms goes way back, but modern information departments are relatively new). My psychology roots go far back, and include the first psychology professor in the US (8 generations) and one of the “fathers of modern psychology” (9 generations). It gets murkier from there, but basically a bunch of physicians show up, mostly in Leipzig, and finally we run into Otto Mencke (18 generations).

And, other than my esteemed direct ancestors, in the expanded family tree you will also find Carl Friedrich Gauss and David Hilbert, if you are willing to go way back. Which does not reflect any of Naaman, unfortunately, but I still think it is cool.

Who’s in your tree, Ayman?

Otto Mencke – any similarity?

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Post: Naaman’s Academic Ancestors

  1. Gio Wiederhold

    Modern Psychiatry is not just lying down on couches.
    John was an early user of speech analysis, recording frequency ranges, and then processing them at UC Berkeley’s computer center for indications of stress.
    John Starkweather is also the Author of the Pilot language, for creating learning and testing scripts.

  2. Pingback: The Ayman and Naaman Show :: The People’s Build

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