Sunday, July 31, 2016

Initial Exploration of a Family Tree for a Common Ancestor of All U.S. Presidents

  • This is a weekend work-in-progress and there might be errors introduced (and these are my responsibility) - please feel free to send corrections!
  • Viewing and exploring this tree currently requires a powerful computer and a large monitor.

I recently read of how some folks had determined how all of the U.S. presidents are related. It got me to wanting to create such a tree to include as a sample with the Family Tree visualization tool.

T. Dowling has compiled a ton of information on the ancestry of U.S. presidents, and so I was able to make use of his data to see what the full tree might look like. This was kind of exciting because I had never seen this tree shown in a single view.

In this tree (which contains about 3300 individuals), all presidents with the exception of Martin van Buren seem to be direct descendants of King John of England (1166-1216). Martin van Buren is a grand-nephew (via John's half-sister Maria Capet). So, I included King John's mother Eleonore of Aquitaine (1122-1204) to capture all of the presidents as descendants of a single person.

You can go directly to this tree using this link:

(Click image to view larger version)

Yes, it's a bit of a mess. Trying to work with this large tree in a single view has highlighted the need for more optimization (some of which I've done).

Now, to be clear, we may all be descended from most people alive in 1150 (see this great post by WaitButWhy's Tim Urban to see why), so that all presidents may be related to King John or his mother is perhaps not surprising. But our species' poor ability to appreciate the implications of doubling/exponential growth can make these kinds of results interesting and intriguing nonetheless.

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