Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Academic Genealogy

This is my academic genealogy, which my brother David kindly went to all the trouble of researching for me. It traces back from my PhD advisor, to his PhD advisor, all the way back to Gallileo. Since that's about when Francis Bacon more or less made up the crazy game we call science, this really gives a picture of the whole enterprise.
It's fun to trace back the names you recognize, and see how they're connected. Fermi (father of the atomic bomb), studied under Max Born (who introduced matrices to quantum theory), who studied under Carl Runge (who invented the Runge-Kutta approximation method, taught in Freshman calculus), who studied under Karl Weierstrass (who put a solid foundation under calculus), who studied under some guy who was taught by Carl Gauss himself. So that goes from math to nuclear physics, and looking at the abstracts of the next few names down you can see how an interest in imaging quantum phenomena developed into an interest in imaging astronomy, and then turned into an interest in image processing, which turned into a study of computer vision.   It was also interesting to see that Ken Perlin, my advisor when I was working on my Master's degree, was the grad student of David Lowe, who invented SIFT. His advisor Thomas Binford built the ACRONYM system, which did the same kinds of things I tried to do in my dissertation, except way back in the 1970s! Of course before that there was no such thing as computer vision; his dissertation was also in physics.
Originally (beginning in the Middle Ages), a Doctorate meant that you had performed scholarship in libraries, rather than creating something new. It wasn't until the 19th century German universities added a requirement for original research in a dissertation that the degree of Doctor of Philosophy became what we know today.

(To read the names on a larger version, right click on the image and choose "Open Link in New Tab.")


Mike Stay said...

Gudermann is known for his function gd(x) that takes the height on a Mercator projection (project outwards from the axis running through the poles onto a cylinder whose radius is the same as the earth's) and gives back the actual distance.

D said...

Well, I'd never heard of him.

Mike Stay said...

Neither had I! I had to look him up.