# Of the best mathematicians, how many are upstarts vs. legacies?

1. Top Mathematician
lxvo

Of the best mathematicians, almost none are parent child pairs. The only pairing I know of are the two Cartans. There is a joke floating around about mathematical talent passing to in laws.

Gauss told his son to get out of mathematics so as to not blemish the family name, causing him to leave for America.

1 weeklxvo
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2. Top Mathematician
gjne

Of the best mathematicians, almost none are parent child pairs. The only pairing I know of are the two Cartans. There is a joke floating around about mathematical talent passing to in laws.

JLL and PLL Three generations of Knesers Max and Emmy Noether

1 weekgjne
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3. Top Mathematician
tmgv

Of the best mathematicians, almost none are parent child pairs. The only pairing I know of are the two Cartans. There is a joke floating around about mathematical talent passing to in laws.

Gauss told his son to get out of mathematics so as to not blemish the family name, causing him to leave for America.

Johann/Daniel Bernoulli and Emil/Michael Artin are also quite serious lol

1 weektmgv
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4. Top Mathematician
kxvj

John Pardon, Will Sawin, Daniel Kane, Daniel Kriz, Maria Monks, and Margaret Bilu are examples of legacies. Their parent(s) are also math professors.

Zoia Ceaușescu was the ultimate startup or anti-legacies. Her parents were peasant communist dictators who opposed her pursuit of math PhD, even dismantled the math institute she worked in. Zoia had published very well by the standard of her time, getting ~ 300 google scholar citations despite the ages of the papers. Zoia Ceaușescu's Erdős number is 2.

Having math or physics professor parents is such an enormous advantage in the US. You would know abstract algebra coming in as an undergrad at HYPSMC and not struggle in any math classes. You'd be able to choose any advisor for a senior thesis since they wouldn't assume you're stupid and immediately rule you out.

1 weekkxvj
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5. Top Mathematician
lxvo

You can fit a planet through the gap between H. Cartan and Max Noether. You have me on the Bernoullis, partly because I can't keep them straight in my head.

1 weeklxvo
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6. Top Mathematician
veqy

I always cringe when people point out the "miracle" that E. Witten went from being a history major to the leading theoretical physicist. (His father is a theoretical physics professor.)

1 weekveqy
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7. Top Mathematician
gzcx

Richard Taylor and his father John C Taylor

en. wikipedia. org/wiki/John_Clayton_Taylor

1 weekgzcx
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8. Top Mathematician
bwdl

Of the best mathematicians, almost none are parent child pairs.

Best mathematicians have higher probability of having mathematician parents by several orders of magnitude compared to general population. For the probability of a best/best pair, you should account for child being best in another field --- well advised geniuses may want to avoid mathematics.

1 weekbwdl
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9. Top Mathematician
bwdd

Almost all of them are legacies. I can't think of any exceptions in the modern day. This doesn't mean you can never be a great mathematician if you weren't born into privilege, but it does mean you've got your work cut out for you.

1 weekbwdd
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10. Top Mathematician
bwdl

Almost all of them are legacies. I can't think of any exceptions in the modern day. This doesn't mean you can never be a great mathematician if you weren't born into privilege, but it does mean you've got your work cut out for you.

True for women, for men it is more mixed.

1 weekbwdl
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11. Top Mathematician
bwdl

peasant communist dictators who opposed her pursuit of math PhD, even dismantled the math institute she worked in.

As based as it gets.

1 weekbwdl
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12. Top Mathematician
fmkk

Almost all of them are legacies. I can't think of any exceptions in the modern day. This doesn't mean you can never be a great mathematician if you weren't born into privilege, but it does mean you've got your work cut out for you.

You can't think of exceptions in the modern day? I guess you aren't close friends with many great mathematicians (or at least, close enough to know something about their families), which checks out.

1 weekfmkk
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13. Top Mathematician
bwdl

You can't think of exceptions in the modern day?

The phrasing of the OP unrealistically treats legacy/nonlegacy as a binary dichotomy. If you created a scale of how academic, mathematical and high-IQ the ancestors are, it would be hard to dispute that the people with an objective claim to labels like "best" and "great" tend to come from severely enriched backgrounds. Just not always from a clan of professors --- though even that happens surprisingly often.

1 weekbwdl
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14. Top Mathematician
zpqw

You can't think of exceptions in the modern day?

The phrasing of the OP unrealistically treats legacy/nonlegacy as a binary dichotomy. If you created a scale of how academic, mathematical and high-IQ the ancestors are, it would be hard to dispute that the people with an objective claim to labels like "best" and "great" tend to come from severely enriched backgrounds. Just not always from a clan of professors --- though even that happens surprisingly often.

This is speculation. What precise studies are you drawing an analogy to?

1 weekzpqw
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15. Top Mathematician
bwdl
[...]

The phrasing of the OP unrealistically treats legacy/nonlegacy as a binary dichotomy. If you created a scale of how academic, mathematical and high-IQ the ancestors are, it would be hard to dispute that the people with an objective claim to labels like "best" and "great" tend to come from severely enriched backgrounds. Just not always from a clan of professors --- though even that happens surprisingly often.

This is speculation. What precise studies are you drawing an analogy to?

Read FM bios and count it for yourself. It holds also for math contest wunderkinder and pretty much anything where there is an extremely high level of cognitive selection.

1 weekbwdl
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16. Top Mathematician
lxvo

You'll never get a scientific answer to this question or anything like it in our lifetimes, because no competent sociologist is dumb enough politically to touch it.

1 weeklxvo
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17. Top Mathematician
mpjm

1 weekmpjm
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18. Top Mathematician
bwdl

What race stuff? This is all within-race (and also within-sex if you wish) phenomena. The Field medalists are not very diverse after all.

1 weekbwdl
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19. Top Mathematician
uaaq

What about lemons in the family? Not all Bernoulli's were top shelf, not all Bach's were JS or PDQ level.

1 weekuaaq
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20. Top Mathematician
bwdl

What about lemons in the family? Not all Bernoulli's were top shelf, not all Bach's were JS or PDQ level.

Not all of Bach, Bernoulli, and Euler's children were lemons.

1 weekbwdl
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