Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Academic Genealogy Surprises Continue -- Back to Newton and Even Galileo Thanks to Mike Trick

Those of us in Operations Research are well aware of the heritage of our discipline, which includes such luminaries as the physicist Phillip Morse, and, as a distinct discipline, originates in the 1940s.

Many of us are curious about other students that have had the same doctoral dissertation advisor since networks in academia and beyond are important.

While I knew that the doctoral dissertation advisor of my dissertation advisor, Stella Dafermos, was F. Thomas "Tom" Sparrow, my academic genealogy trail ended there.

It was not until I received email messages from fellow OR blogger and CMU Professor Mike Trick that I found out that his advisor's, advisor's advisor was also Tom Sparrow, so we are academic cousins! Mike received his PhD from Georgia Tech while I received mine from Brown University.

In another recent blogpost, Mike, being the serious scholar and researcher that he is, traced our heritage back to Sir Isaac Newton, who needs no introductions to any living scientist, but, wait, there is more ...

While not technically his advisor in the current sense, the most important advisor to Newton was Isaac Barrow, the discoverer of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

Barrow, in turn, studied under Vincenzio Viviani, who studied under Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei, who is considered the father of modern physics.

Looking back in OR/MS Today, I found Great Moments in HistORy by Saul Gass and the second item mentions none other than Newton!

We clearly need to enthusiastically celebrate our scientific roots with our disciplinary brothers and sisters, including physicists.