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Mathematical genealogy grapher.

Project description


Geneagrapher is a tool for extracting information from the Mathematics Geanealogy Project to form a geneagraphy. The output is a dot file, which can be used by Graphviz to visualize the tree.

Basic Concepts

The input to the Geneagrapher is a set of starting nodes. If you want to build the ancestor graph of C. Felix Klein, then C. Felix Klein is the starting node for that graph. Multiple starting nodes may be provided (to produce the combined ancestor graph for an academic department, for instance).

Each individual stored in the Mathematics Genealogy Project's website has a unique integer as an identifier, and this identifier is what is passed to the Geneagrapher for starting nodes. The identifier is embedded in the URL for records in the Mathematics Genealogy Project website. For example, Carl Gauß is ID 18231 and Leonhard Euler is ID 38586.

Before running the Geneagrapher, go to the Mathematics Genealogy Project and gather the identifiers of the starting nodes for the graph you have in mind.


Geneagrapher is installed by pip. If your system does not have pip, see the instructions here.

Once pip is available on your system, install Geneagrapher with:

pip install geneagrapher


After installing the Geneagrapher, running

ggrapher --help

should produce

usage: ggrapher [-h] [--version] [-f FILE] [-a] [-d] [--disable-cache]
                [--cache-file FILE] [-v]
                ID [ID ...]

Create a Graphviz "dot" file for a mathematics genealogy, where ID is a record
identifier from the Mathematics Genealogy Project. Multiple IDs may be passed.

positional arguments:
  ID                    mathematician record ID

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --version             show program's version number and exit
  -f FILE, --file FILE  write output to FILE [default: stdout]
  -a, --with-ancestors  retrieve ancestors of IDs and include in graph
  -d, --with-descendants
                        retrieve descendants of IDs and include in graph
  --disable-cache       do not store records in local cache
  --cache-file FILE     write cache to FILE [default: geneacache]
  -v, --verbose         list nodes being retrieved

Explanations of some of the options are given below, followed by examples.

-f FILE, --file=FILE

By default, the Geneagrapher writes the data it generates to standard output. If you want the data written to file, you need to redirect the output or use the -f or --file switch. When one of these switches is used, the data is saved in the file name provided.

-a, --with-ancestors

When one of these switches is provided to the Geneagrapher, an ancestor graph is generated. An ancestor graph starts with the starting nodes and the works up to their advisors, their advisors' advisors, and so on.

-d, --with-descendants

These switches instruct the Geneagrapher to extract information about the descendants of the starting nodes (i.e., their advisees, their advisees' advisees, and so on).

Processing the Dot File

To process the generated dot file, Graphviz is needed. Graphviz installs several programs for processing dot files. For the Geneagrapher, I use the dot program. Let's look at an example.

If the Geneagrapher has generated a file named "", we can do

dot -Tpng > graph.png

This command produces a PNG file containing the graph. That's really all there is to it. Almost.

By default, dot renders an image with 96dpi. This can look a little blurry at 100% on high-resolution displays. You might want to increase the resolution. You can do this with the -Gdpi flag. For instance, to produce a PNG with 150dpi, you can do

dot -Tpng -Gdpi=150 > graph.png


Note: the Mathematics Genealogy Project has added new data since the examples below were constructed, so if re-run, the results will look different. The commands, however, all remain correct.

Single Node Ancestry: Carl Gauß

To produce the ancestry dot file for Carl Gauß and save it in the file '', run the command

ggrapher -f -a 18231

Gauss math genealogy

Multiple Node Ancestry: Friedrich Bessel and Christian Gerling

To produce the combined ancestry dot file for Friedrich Bessel and Christian Gerling and save it in the file '', run the command

ggrapher -f -a 18603 29642

Bessel-Gerling math genealogy

Single Node Descendant Graph: Haskell Curry

To produce the descendant dot file for Haskell Curry and save it in the file '', run the command

ggrapher -f -d 7398

Curry math genealogy descendants

Note that descendant graphs often have a lot of "fan out".

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