Who is the main or center profile of the global one world tree, anyway?

+16 votes
This has just been a question that's been bugging me since I joined. Who was the first person on the global tree?  In other words, who is the person that everyone else gets compared against to see if everyone else is connected to the global tree or not?  

My best guesses are that it's either Chris Whitten's profile, or it's Queen Elizabeth II, the anchor profile that I've never seen get removed from the page of suggested global connection anchors.
in WikiTree Tech by D. Botkin G2G6 Mach 3 (35.7k points)
On a related note, I have wondered what profile would have the lowest mean average of connecting steps to every other linked profile. The epicenter of profiles. My guess would be a colonial era New Englander with British heritage
Me too!  And I'd say that's a very good guess.  I've been compiling a list of famous people I'm related to, and every one of them goes back to a couple families that lived in Colonial America.
Isn't there an old wife's tale about everyone being related to Charlemagne, or at least claiming they are?

5 Answers

+21 votes
Best answer

I can't answer from the point of certainty of having looked at the code that runs WikiTree. I can't be certain because, contrary to my 3rd year vertebrate evolution course, there's more than one way to skin a cat. That's typical for computational challenges (cf. TMTOWTDI; or The Zen of Python)

Frigthened kitty

Don't worry dear kitty - it's only a metaphor here!

So I can't say for certain how it's done, but I'll offer an educated guess and a counter-example to your line of thinking: The code determining one's connection might not be looking for a connection to a particular individual, but rather simply to the largest connected component of the graph. i.e. You do not need to have a "central" or "reference" individual. 

But I should back up and explain what the heck I'm talking about... 

WikiTree (and any family tree, for that matter) is a graph. Rather, WikiTree is a database of individuals and relationships, which can be described by a graph.

Example graph  

An undirected graph.


 Family Tree is a Graph

A family tree. Note: the depiction of nodes and edges is present different meanings when shown in a family tree format; it's purely a historical and stylistic choice.

WikiTree's family tree graph can be treated as being a directed graph or an undirected graph. The nodes (things that get connected; a.k.a. "vertices") are individuals; the edges (lines that connect the nodes) are relationships. A relationship, such as "father" or "mother" or "son" or "daughter" is a directional relationship, but we'll ignore that for now. I'm just telling you to give you the bigger picture.

A directed graph.

A directed graph.

The relationships considered or included might depend on culture, e.g. in Western culture, we typically stick with relationships described by kinship terminology + marriage; compare with a genetic perspective, where marriage relationships don't exist separately from any offspring. This is the difference between having only one node - Prince Charles - between Queen Elizabeth II and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, versus having several nodes separating them. WikiTree makes the former choice, counting Charles to Camilla as an edge.

Numerous algorithms exists to analyze the connectivity of graphs and to determine whether nodes are connected or not. A graph may consist of several clusters of nodes that are mutually connected, but which aren't connected to all of the others. These sub-graphs are sometimes referred to as components (or subgroups). 

Subgroups or Components of a Graph

An image showing the different subgroups or components detected in a graph data set. 

Many network analysis tools include an algorithm to determine the largest component. Currently, if we were to analyze all of the profiles on WikiTree as a single graph, the "global tree" would be the largest component. 

The largest component of various graphs as determined using the "Giant Component" function in NetworkX

Hence it could simply be a matter of having the most connected individuals that determines what is the connected "global tree", rather than a connection to a particular individual. If that were the case, given the relatively small size of WikiTree's largest component, the connected portion of the "global tree" (13,763,773 people are connected at the time of writing), it would be entirely possible for some non-Western, mid-sized countries to overtake the current "global tree" that centres largely on western countries. (I, for one, welcome our new Elbonian cousins!) According to Wolfram Alpha, there are 24 African countries with enough current population to achieve this (without counting deceased ancestors, although they would certainly be necessary) and some of which might be "distant" enough that it would take a while before reconnecting with the main of WikiTree.

The African Options

Of course these are just a few of the potential global rivals.

Although, I truly could imagine that some brave — and very dedicated—  WikiTree Connector might undertake a strategic marriage if it could unite the two trees, should no alternative path could be found:

"It's your turn to take one for the team"

by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (130k points)
selected by Adrija Jackson
That was WAY more in depth that anything I expected to get.  (I halfway expected to get no replies at all)  Thank you so very much for that!

Ooh! I see a whole new market niche! 

Welcome to TreeDate

Enter your WikiTree ID, age, and gender to find out who you should marry to connect your branch to another branch you're not yet connected to! Take one for the team!

Thank you for this answer. I am always curios about how things work in human and computer universes. You have a great sense of humor as well. Brilliant. One of the best answers on WikiTree.

However, when it comes to Wiki Tree programming, it needs much improvement. For instance, the answer to this question should be obvious to the most casual user if an interface was properly designed.
I am interested in viewing what is on WikiTree in a different format than family group sheets or pedigrees.  Is that available?  I want to see how different family groups are connected on a scale that is not linear, more 3-D, like gephi nodes as you explain above.

I keep seeing how this is a "world tree" but can only see the names I search for and not anything on how lines all connect.  Is there a way to see the node version?
+6 votes
Chris's profile was created on 3 Jan 2008, Queen Elizabeth's was created on 6 Jan 2010.

Since Chris created WikiTree and most people build their trees from themselves outward I'd say, if there is such a thing as a "central" profile, it would be his.
by Deb Durham G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+8 votes
It was AJ Jacobs originally.  Then it was Kevin Bacon.  Does't really matter who.  Any of the 13,763,773 is connected to all of the other 13,763,772.

Perhaps those 2 could make a farewell appearance before they go Unlisted.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (573k points)
Perhaps genealogy is the one place where you actually are the center of the universe!  My first thought was to say YOU are the center of the tree (meaning they eyes of the beholder).
No wonder it's so popular :)
+3 votes
Shouldn't it be Adam and Eve? God? The light? Singularity? I and the rest of humanity would love to know the answer. :)
by Adrija Jackson G2G2 (2.3k points)

WikiTree doesn't allow profiles for pre-BCE people like Adam and Eve.   cheeky

+2 votes
Whitten-1 is the creator of WikiTree --Chris Whitten
by Sheila Finco G2G Rookie (260 points)

Chris is likely the first profile that was created on WikiTree, but that doesn't make him necessarily the Center of the Tree. To learn a bit more about the geometry of the Tree, the Space Page about the Outer Rim might be informative.

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