Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday search challenge (09/18/13): Who is my great-great-great-great-great-great-great advisor?

Before we begin....  a minor admission.  A mini-mea culpa, if you will.  
Obviously, I was off on vacation in Bonaire last week.  It was a fabulous trip.  If you're really curious about Caribbean diving, here's a link to my G+ Bonaire photo album.  
So I'd planned on finishing up the "parrotfish sand problem" last week, but got too busy diving.  (And, truthfully, I spent much of my time on the last two days chasing after parrotfish, hoping to catch them in the "sand creation" act.  I did, but it was hard!)  
Then, the moment I got back, I was plunged into the deep end of work.  So I haven't had any time to finish up the parrotfish question.  But I shall.  It just might be at the end of this week.   
Hang in there... more work on this in a bit.  

AND NOW... back to today's Search Research Challenge.... 

Because I'm time-limited, I'm going to post a fairly simple challenge.  Once you figure it out, it's fairly cool and interesting.  (But, as with many of these challenges, if you don't see the solution, it will look crazy-hard-impossible.  Remember what we've talked about before in this blog.  If you keep those search principles in mind, you should be able to figure it out.) 
A genealogical chart from the original King James bible (1611).  Image courtesy


As you know, I got my PhD in Computer Science from the University of Rochester in 1985.  My specialty area was Artificial Intelligence (if you must know, my thesis title is "Schema-based Problem Solving").  

And, as you know, every doctoral student has one main advisor (or rarely, two...).  

There's also a very traditional aspect to getting a PhD.  Having a doctorate awarded is a relatively long, ritualized, ceremonial affair involving special gowns, hats, felt stripes on the arm of your cloak, and history.  

Most PhD students know their advisor's intellectual lineage.  That is, you know who your advisor's advisor was, and often the great-advisor, and so on.  There's a bit of legend and lore in all this; a feeling that excellent advisors pass their learned opinions down from the greats in the past.  And that observation leads to today's challenge.  

Who is my (meaning me, Dan Russell's) great-great-great-great-great-great-great advisor?   (And why is that an incredibly cool thing to know?) 
In other words, I believe that you can figure out who my advisor's-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor-advisor was (back 7 PhD generations).  Once you figure it out, it's a fairly interesting thing to know.  (Put it this way, I was certainly surprised.) 

Search on! 


  1. Searched [ "Schema-based Problem Solving" russell ] to find your thesis listed in Google Books but without a preview.

    Somewhere I found this page MPact that said you had no advisors Figured it had to be wrong.

    Tried Google Scholar with [ "Schema-based Problem Solving" russell ]

    Lots of citations but nothing helpful with you as author.

    Back to web search. Not knowing if it would be listed as Daniel Martin or Daniel M. I threw in the wildcard operator. [ "University of Rochester" "daniel * russell" Schema ]

    Very short list of results. I decide to give the last link in the results a try: The Mathematics Genealogy Project - Daniel Russell

    Interesting! It listed you with 2 advisors and their names were links.
    Advisor 1: Jerome Arthur Feldman
    Advisor 2: Christopher Montgomery Brown (not a long enough lineage)

    So this tool traces a person's Ph.D lineage. Now to figure out this whole great-great-great count.

    Daniel M. Russell < Jerome Arthur Feldman < Alan Jay Perlis <Philip Franklin < Oswald Veblen < E. H. (Eliakim Hastings) Moore < H. A. (Hubert Anson) Newton < Michel Chasles < Simeon Denis Poisson

    If the "Greats" start at your advisor then it is Michel Chasles.

    I put in Poisson just in case you meant the "great grandfather way of counting and then we would start at your advisor's advisor and go back 7 generations.

  2. Just an addition to the thought process.

    While reading the beginning of the challenge I did remember your last family tree challenge and was hoping this wasn't going to be a challenge I'd have to go to my public library to research

    I guess I was too relieved when I started out because I noticed as I was closing tabs as I wrote my response that the Mathematics Genealogy Project was in my first results page when I started. Totally missing your clue if you meant it that way.

  3. I'm not sure I'm counting the "great"s correctly, because 3 successive levels of advisors were quite interesting. At what I'm pretty sure is the 7th-generation, is Simeon Denis Poisson.

    Continuing on, his advisors were Lagrange and Laplace. Lagrange's advisor was Leonhard Euler.

    I spent about 10 minutes on it.

    I started by searching your name and thesis title. One of the top hits was your CV, from which I got the year and university. Adding those top my search turned up the Mathematics Genealogy Project at North Dakota State University.

    From there it was just a matter of counting clicks.

  4. Answer: Simeon Denis Poisson, a French mathematician, geometer, and physicist.

    With a Google search on: ["Schema-based Problem Solving" "Daniel Martin Russell"] I found the Mathematics Genealogy Project

    Daniel Martin Russell ==> Jerome Arthur Feldman ==> Alan Jay Perlis ==> Philip Franklin ==> Oswald Veblen ==> E. H. (Eliakim Hastings) Moore ==> H. A. (Hubert Anson) Newton ==> Michel Chasles ==> Simeon Denis Poisson

    8th generation: ==> Joseph Louis Lagrange: an Italian-born French mathematician who excelled in all fields of analysis and number theory and analytical and celestial mechanics)

    9th generation: ==> Leonhard Euler: a Swiss mathematician who made enormous contibutions to a wide range of mathematics and physics including analytic geometry, trigonometry, geometry, calculus and number theory.)

  5. ["Schema-based Problem Solving" russell] found The Mathematics Genealogy Project - Daniel Russell who had 2 advisors. Brown fails after a couple of generations because no advisor listed.

    However Dan's other advisor Feldman lead thru the years to LaGrange & LaPlace

    Well Done Dan

    I guess you did Feldman's Mathematical genealogy before you chose him ?

    Under 5 minutes

    jon who did not do very well in his university math

  6. the Bonaire pics are delightful - the lure of the deep - Sea Fever
    John Masefield
    … just a shot in the Doctoral dark - Charles Babbage, FRS?
    Royal Society
    7 generations is an amorphous quantity of time, but Babbage could fall in the range.
    my alternative guess would be Phineas Taylor Barnum
    P.T.& associate
    CN - married a woman from Redwood City, CA.
    … but can't verify he had a PhD.
    This is a bit off topic, but the inclusion of the St. James/St.John's graphic from the LoC got me wondering about the organization/access of information on the provider's end… does Google work directly with the LoC and other research organizations to design the framework to make information digitally searchable? the modern day virtual equivalent of Melvil Dewey? the difference between institutional information organization and end user knowledge access… or denial… or inability to locate - and the value of search patterns to disseminators..
    as I said, a bit off topic, but perhaps other readers may be interested in these items as an appetizer:
    Sensemaking III, DMR, Stanford
    Google politics, MIT
    SEO by the SEA

  7. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    Daniel M Russell advisors

    Found: and there ctrl F "Russell" found Jerry Feldman

    [Jerry Feldman Rochester]
    Jerome A. Feldman

    ["Jerry feldman" Rochester University advisors lineage]
    Found: Feldman's academic tree

    Found: Alan Perlis

    [Alan Perlis academic tree]

    Click on Hubert Anson Newton:

    Found: Michel Chasles and Anthony D. Stanley

    ["Anthony D. Stanley" yale]
    [Michel Chasles]
    Found: (a)


    Who is my (meaning me, Dan Russell's) great-great-great-great-great-great-great advisor? (And why is that an incredibly cool thing to know?)
    A: I found two. Anthony D. Stanley and Michel Chasles.

    Michael Chasles:

    - He was called up to take part in the defence of Paris in early 1814.
    - His name is one of 72 that appears on the Eiffel Tower.

    -Received "The Copley Medal" in 1865. This is a scientific award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science.

    - He was a french mathematician who was one of the last great projective geometers in France. He studied cross-ratios and stated Chasles's theorem: Any motion of a solid body can be composed of a translation and a rotation. Source: (a)

    - He Published in 1837: "Aperçu historique sur l'origine et le développement des méthodes en géométrie" (Historical view of the origin and development of methods in geometry) still important today. And in 1852 "Traité de géométrie"

    Daniel M. Russell Academic Tree

  8. wow!, did the wheels come off my little search cart… feel like I should strap on the weight belt and go tankless… or down a couple bottles of Silver Owl and seek a sunset.
    another way to get to the NDSU site -

    wider net

    an interesting, cautionary tale -
    just the "facts" ma'am

    search on, Danielle… oui?

  9. Answer - I am listing my answer first and what follows afterwards are the various queries I tried. My search thoughts were that if I could find Dr. Russell's thesis he would mention his advisor. While I could find references to the thesis I couldn't access the document.

    Not knowing anything regarding the doctorate process my next idea was that the University of Rochester would have a list of "thesis advisors". I wasn't able to find a directory of advisors.
    So the next step was to stop and rethink this challenge. I knew about genealogy and thought it may be a specialized type search. I found the Mathematics Genealogy Project. This was not a quick easy challenge for me. I want others to see my efforts, why I chose those routes, what didn't work and eventually how I figured out a solution. I spent a few hours pulling this together.

    *Jerome Arthur Feldman (physics & artificial intelligence.*
    *Alan Jay Perlis (computer sciences -languages)*
    *Phillip Franklin (Mathematician & father was Benjamin Franklin)*
    *Oswald Veblen ( projective and differential geometry, and topology)*
    *E. H. (Eliakim Hastings) Moore (mathematician)*
    *H. A. (Hubert Anson) Newton (research on meteors)*
    *Michel Chasles ( algebraic and projective geometry)*

    Query [ doctoral program]
    Query [ "Schema-based Problem Solving" 1985 russell]
    Query [ inauthor:"Daniel Martin Russell"]
    Google Books - no preview
    Query [ published thesis "daniel russell"]
    Query [ publication "daniel russell"]
    Russell, Dan (PhD ‘85) has recently moved to Google. "He writes that his job is incredibly exciting and that the average age at Google is 28, making him “a true grey beard” there. He also says he’s working with FOUR other {Jerry Feldman} advisees on his immediate team"

    Query [Jerry Feldman University of Rochester] -shows thesis & advisor/advisee graph

    Result Title: Schema-based problem-solving: an investigation into using recombinations of pre-stored plans in sophisticated ways

    Query [thesis advisor genealogy]
    Query [ thesis advisor genealogy university of rochester sciences ]
    Query {Mathematics Genealogy Project}

    1. I got thinking about my reference to Benjamin Franklin being Philip's father and realized that it can't be "the" man we think of because the time period is not correct. As much as I would like to think your academic lineage could be linked to one of the founding fathers of the US.

      Despite that I think that intellectual lineage information is "cool" and something I did not know existed.

    2. I'm impressed you found that comment about working with other Feldman students. Now THAT's research!

  10. Hi Dan,
    sounds like you had a great holiday.
    I started off by visiting your university's website and searching the thesis title. It's listed but no further info, so then I visited the uni's library catalogue which again listed it and has link to Google Books but info only there - so dead end.
    Back to main Google I tried ["Schema-based problem solving" Russell]. First few results are no help but 6th result is Mathematics Genealogy Project website which sounds interesting.
    And here you can go back umpteen generations of supervisors. It really is incredible what people will create.
    If I counted correctly, we were going back 8 generations to Siméon Denis Poisson.

    A search for him leads me to Wikipedia article. I'm guessing his coolness qualifications is that he is one of 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower! (on the South east side).

    Took me about 20 mins.

  11. I eventually found the Mathematics Genealogy Project too and just wanted to add that I continued following your advisor lineage up the tree clicking on names I had heard about in Engineering school and picking one at random where two were listed and I did not know either.

    I eventually got to Copernicus! That was fun!

    Nicolaus Copernicus > Moritz Steinmetz > Christoph Meurer > Philipp Müller > Erhard Weigel > Gottfried Leibniz > Nicolas Malebranche > Jacob Bernoulli > Johann Bernoulli > Leonhard Euler > Joseph Lagrange > Simeon Denis Poisson > Michel Chasles > H. A. Newton > E. H. Moore > Oswald Veblen > Philip Franklin > Alan Jay Perlis > Jerome Arthur Feldman > Daniel Martin Russell