I got my PhD from Harvard in 1985 with advisor Harry Lewis
Harry Lewis got his PhD from Harvard in 1974 with advisor Burton Dreben (Dreben was in the Philosophy department and did logic). Burton Dreben never got a PhD (more on that later). So I thought my lineage stopped there. A while back I was in an email conversation with Harry and for some odd reason Galileo came up.
He then emailed me the following:
Did you know you were descended from Galileo, via Newton? See below. The data is from the Math Genealogy project (see here). As you know Dreben had no PhD, but it would certainly be fair to call Quine his advisor anyway. And, in fact, the Math Geneology project lists Quine as Dreben's advisor. By starting with Dreben and clicking backwards I found the following:
In the list below everyone was advised (in some form) by the person below them.
William Gasarch, Harvard 1985
Harry Lewis, Harvard 1974
Burton Dreben, Harvard 1955
WVO Quine, Harvard 1932
AN Whitehead, Cambridge 1884
Edward John Routh, Cambridge 1857
William Hopkins, Cambridge 1830
Adam Sedgwick, Cambridge 1811
Thomas Jones, Cambridge 1782
Thomas Postlethwaite, Cambridge 1756
Stephen Whisson, Cambridge 1742
Walter Taylor, Cambridge 1723
Robert Smith, Cambridge 1715
Roger Coles, Cambridge 1706
Isaac Newton, Cambridge 1668
Isaac Barrow, Cambridge 1652
Vincenzo Viviani, Pisa 1642
Galileo Galilei, Pisa 1585
A few observations
1) Dreben was a philosophy professor at Harvard without a PhD. How? He was a Junior Fellow, which is for brilliant people, some of which were made professors without the burden of going through the PhD-getting ritual. Andrew Gleason was a professor of Math at Harvard without a PhD-- also a junior fellow (he solved Hilbert's 5th problem, which surely helped). Tom Cheatham was a CS professor at Harvard who did not have a PhD but was not a junior fellow. I do not know how he did that. Things are more formal now, and more people have PhD's, so I suspect it is much rarer to be a professor without a PhD. Harvard still has the Junior Fellows Program, but even they have PhDs now. If someone solved P vs NP as an ugrad, I suspect they would be hired as a professor even though they do not have a PhD. That's one way for a theorist to get out of taking graduate systems courses.
2) Note that Galileo and Vincenzo were in Pisa but then a long line of people from Cambridge. In those days schools hired their own. Is this good or bad? They know what they are getting, but you could have an old-boys-network blocking fresh new talent, and you may get stuck in your ways. Nowadays, at least in America, it is uncommon to stay at the same school as you got your PhD.
3) The shift from Pisa to Cambridge might be part of a more general phenomena--- the intellectual center for science shifting from Italy to England. What caused this? Amir Alexander, in his book Infinitesimals: How a dangerous mathematical idea shaped the modern world (see my review here ) speculates that the Catholic Church's rejection of Infinitesimals was the cause. I suspect that letting non-scientists interfere with science was the cause (a lesson for us all).
4) Lance did a blog on his lineage here. He has Gauss and Euler as ancestors.
5) To honor the myths about my two most famous academic ancestors, Galileo and Newton, I am going to travel to Italy and have Darling drop two apples of different weights off the leaning tower of Pisa and see if they hit my head at the same time.