Graphs Of Wikipedia: Mathematicians

Reading time ~2 minutes

I’ve recently been digging around the topic of influences so I thought it would be interesting to examine a few subnetworks within the large network of everyone. This time I set my scopes on mathematicians. There is no primary reason why other than – I can. I’ve long been interested in the history of mathematics and so I wondered what a network of great mathematicians actually looked like? Could there be underlying structures between mathematicians who have influenced each other over history? This time I used Freebase which has an excellent query system which enables you to pull out information on pretty much anything you can think of. I focused on the influence node for this task. I set a few filters such as; everyone in the network has to have Profession == Mathematician. This removes a lot of fluff and creates a nice csv file which is usable within Gephi. As usual I had to do a bit of cleaning up in Microsoft Excel but in the end it turned out alright (download).

Graph of Mathematicians

As expected, Aristotle, Newton, Avicenna and Gauss are some of the biggest nodes in the network. Indeed, they were tremendously influential on the course of mathematics. Interestingly, after applying modularity, a few little subnetworks within the total network appear. Many of the ‘traditional’ mathematicians cluster together; i.e. Gauss, Jacobi, Riemann, Dedekind etc. Some broad categories I found include:


Mathematicians: Astronomers/Physicists


Mathematicians: Geometers


Mathematicians: Logicians

Muslim/Arab Scholars

Mathematicians: Muslims/Arabs

19th century

Mathematicians: Traditional

There are other networks – see if you can spot why certain names are clustered together (e.g. linguistics, algebra, philosophy etc). I found a bunch of mathematicians I had never heard of which has provided me a list of biographies to read.

Things To Keep In Mind

  • There are only nodes for which there is available data. There are obviously a great number of influential mathematicians missing from the network.

  • I had to restrict to Profession == Mathematician and this might be too restricting in that if a mathematician in the database doesn’t have their profession set, then they would have been excluded.

  • There may be some contamination as I found Ralph Emerson, Mohammed and Buddha in amongst the mathematicians which I hate to say it – just aren’t. I tried to clear up these contaminants but there still might be residuals. Feel free to point these out.

  • It is a graph of influence between people, not a graph of how influential they were on mathematics.

If you like, you can purchase a poster version of this graph here.

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