Computers and Genealogy
Masters project ideas
simulation of the genealogy of the west, 500 AD - 2000 AD.
Answer the question:
Is the entire population of the West descended from Charlemagne?
Background: Everyone knows that all humans are related.
But when we think of common ancestors of all humans
we tend to imagine they are in pre-history.
Recent work in mathematics and computer simulations indicates
that the Most Recent Common Ancestor of all living humans on earth
(or at least in the West) may actually be in history, even AD.
For example, almost everyone in the West may descend from
the 8th-9th century AD figure Charlemagne.
Computer simulations are the best way to address this.
Use A-Life, "agents"-type technology.
Hard programming problem.
How do we run a simulation with 500 million agents?
And as for the answer to the above question - no one knows,
whether they use DNA, historical records or mathematical models.
Your aim would be to do something similar
to Rohde's computer simulation.
DONE BEFORE - Ireland only
Explicitly model features of Irish history
- the Norman invasion, the plantations, emigration,
the Catholic-Protestant division,
the Pale v. Connaught, etc.
Your computer simulation would aim to answer the following questions.
Strangely enough, no one knows the answers to these,
and recent math and computer simulations for the world
(see above) suggest the answers
may be surprising:
- When did the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)
of everyone on the island (*) live?
Does everyone on the island (*) descend from Norman settlers?
Does everyone on the island (*) descend from Elizabethan settlers?
Does everyone on the island (*) descend from Cromwellian settlers?
Does everyone on the island (*)
have Protestant ancestry?
Does everyone on the island (*) have Gaelic Irish ancestry?
- Does everyone on the island (*) have Irish Catholic ancestry?
- Does everyone on the island (*) have Irish Catholic ancestry
after the Reformation?
(*) Apart from recent immigrants.
If the answer to these latter questions
it is probably too much to hope for that
it would affect tribal attitudes on this island,
which seem to me to be based on ignorance of genealogy. (**)
But it should still make the news.
And it would make a nice article for a journal somewhere.
(**) For example:
- Terence O'Neill,
Harold McCusker and Ken Maginnis are obviously Irish in their male-line ancestry.
- Gerry Adams, Bobby Sands and John Hume are obviously
British in their male-line ancestry.
- The entire British Royal family since 1377
descends from the Gaelic Irish.
- All these Irish rebels
- Garret Mor Fitzgerald, Garret Og Fitzgerald, Silken Thomas,
The rebel Earl of Desmond, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, Lord Edward Fitzgerald,
Robert Emmet, William Smith O'Brien, Charles Stewart Parnell
- all of them descend from
the British Royal Family.
People researching the genetics of Ireland:
- TCD Molecular Population Genetics
- Dan Bradley
- Brian (or Brien) McEvoy
- Their research suggests the Irish are not Celts.
i.e. That the Celtic invasion was a small invasion that did not change the DNA pool much.
Other studies have suggested that most
invasions are invasions of memes
more than genes
(invaders are warrior and adventurer males
who then marry local women, etc.).
Irish DNA, therefore, is mainly pre-Celtic.
Similar studies have shown
British DNA as pre-historic too.
- On the other hand, we are interested in all
ancestors, not just ancestors
whose DNA has survived.
And that would indicate that everyone in Ireland
has Celtic ancestry.
Do the world
Do the world like Rohde.
Except do literature search to find out was anywhere in the world
really hermetically sealed off for long periods?
Tasmania? Pacific Islands? Papua New Guinea?
Would need to study latest thinking on boat technology, sea levels,
Vikings in N America, SE Asians going into Australia, etc.
If places were almost sealed off, then the rare incomer's DNA would be lost,
and in genetics it would look hermetically sealed off.
But in genealogy, we need hermetically sealed off
in order not to be descended from people.
Computer simulation to examine
Descending from someone without inheriting any DNA from them.
This is the interface between genetics and genealogy.
Geneticists tend to study DNA that survives.
Genealogists are interested in your descent from Edward III
even if there is no physical evidence of it.
First, literature search.
What do geneticists say about probability of inheriting no DNA from an ancestor?
No doubt there are theoretical models.
Probably no computer simulations though.
Answer the question:
How far back do you have to go before probability greater than 50 percent
that you have inherited no DNA at all from an ancestor in that generation?
I suspect the answer is in historical times.
Same question with 90 percent, 99 percent.
Computer simulation - "Who has slept with who"
Who's Had Who by Richard Curtis, Simon Bell and Helen Fielding, 1987,
apparently lists people who have slept with people who have slept with people, and so on.
- For example:
- Nancy Reagan
- Clark Gable
- Ava Gardner -
- Marilyn Monroe
Follow the "Married" and "Relationship" lines to be certain.
Use caution with the "Encounter" lines.
Do not follow the "On-Screen Romance" lines.
- In fact, half of Hollywood, and a huge number of music stars,
from the early 20th century right to today,
can connect eventually to the above Reagan-JFK chain.
It seems that, if we knew all the facts,
once a chain reaches a big enough size, it will extend
indefinitely into the human past
(i.e. back millions of years).
- The project - Run a computer simulation of sexual encounters
(from once-off to marriage) in society.
In normal society, do chains exist that go back millions of years?
What percentage of the modern population is on a chain that goes back millions of years?
As you go back in time, chains join the start of other chains,
and are then seen as part of one huge chain.
Is there a limit, say 500 years, where there is only one huge interconnecting
chain that goes back before
500 years, and you are either on it or not?
That is, two chains can't go back separately
before 500 years without connecting at some point.
Computer simulation -
Human mate choice
- Human mate choice simulation.
Compare different heuristics and their consequences.
Show different heuristics in different societies.
See age at marriage