Itamar Pitowsky was born in Jerusalem in 1950. He was awarded the B.Sc. in physics and mathematics, and M.A. in mathematics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario. His dissertation entitled The Logic of Fundamental Processes was written under the direction of Jeffrey Bub. Itamar Pitowsky was the Eleanor Roosevelt Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His untimely death in 2010 was a great loss to the international community of philosophers of physics.
Academic Genealogy and the Arrow of Time.
By Itamar Pitowsky
As you go Backwards is your family tree, the number of ancestors grows exponentially with the number of generations. Which means that it is practically impossible to list all of them. The solution is easy enough: From the large number of ancestors you choose one with some distinction. Then you list the people in the branch leading from this person to you while ignoring the rest. The rest include a multitude of anonymous people, a few crooks, and perhaps some outright criminals. (If you go back far enough you are likely to find them). This is how your YICHUS is manufactured.
Academic Genealogy, on the other hand, consists of a single branch, or at most a few. You simply list your PhD supervisor, then his/her PhD supervisor, and so on. It Turn out that there is a web site devoted to academic genealogy of mathematicians from which some of the information below is taken, and can be continued further down the generations to the 17th century. So here is part of it:
And so on…
Going forward in time changes one’s perspective completely. The great Weierstrass has tens of thousands of academic descendants, so academic genealogy is not a very big deal either. However, academic trees, unlike family trees, grow at different rates backwards and forwards. As more PhD graduate the entropy increases.