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Turing Award Genealogy

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The Heidelberg Laureate Forum invited laureates in mathematics and computer science to participate. There have been numerous comparisons between the mathematicians and the computer scientists. For example, a much larger proportion of Turing Award winners came to the forum than Fields Medal winners.

Another difference between winners of the two honors is that Turing Award winners have more interesting academic genealogy. In a previous post I looked at Fields Medal winners whose students or academic siblings also won a Fields Medal. This post asks the same questions of Turing Award winners.

To start, while every winner of the Fields Medal has had a PhD degree, 10 out of the 60 Turing Award winners did not have a PhD. So for many Turing Award winners, the academic genealogy question doesn’t make sense. (Academic genealogy typically considers only PhD advisor/student relationships.) But for those Turing winners with PhDs, there are some interesting results illustrated in the graphs below.

Turing Award winners are listed in ellipses. Others are listed in squares. Arrows point from advisor to student.

A few things to note:

  • In 1975 Herbert Simon and his student Allen Newell won the Turing Award at the same time.
  • In 1976, Michael Rabin and Dana Scott, both students of Alonzo Church, won the Turing Award.
  • Turing winner Robert Tarjan had two advisors who were also Turing winners.
  • Manuel Blum was the student of a Turing winner and had three students who went on to also be Turing winners.

Also see

Fields Medal genealogy

Why so few Mathematicians?

Why so few Mathematicians? (Follow up)



This blog post originates from the official blog of the 1st Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) which takes place September 22 – 27, 2013 in Heidelberg, Germany. 40 Abel, Fields, and Turing Laureates will gather to meet a select group of 200 young researchers. John D. Cook is a member of the HLF blog team. Please find all his postings on the HLF blog.

John Cook About the Author: John Cook is a consultant working in applied mathematics and software development. He completed a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Texas and a postdoc at Vanderbilt University. His career has been a blend of research, software development, consulting, and management. His areas of application have ranged from the search for oil deposits to the search for a cure for cancer. He has a popular blog and several Twitter accounts related to mathematics and computing. John lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and four daughters where he is the owner of Singular Value Consulting. Follow on Twitter @JohnDCook.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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