Is this the geekiest genealogy post in the world?

As you start researching your family tree and recording the results you become familiar with various technical words associated with it. The Ahnentafel numbering system is one that most are familair with.

What I have found fascinating as a Mathematics graduate who teaches Computing and is addicted to genealogy is the link between the binary Ahnentafel number and the ablilty to identify how the ancestor is related to the subject.

If you look at the table below the first column is the standard Ahnentafel number, the second is the binary equivalent and the third is the relationship to the subject.

Now for the interesting (geeky?) part. If you know the binary representation of the Ahnentafel number then you can work out the relationship tro the subject:

The first 1 indicates the subject
A 0 represents a father
A 1 represents a mother


1011 represents: subject - father - mother - mother

So Ahnentafel number 1011 is my Father's mother's mother.

Is it just me or is that not just fantastic?


Daphne Garrison said...

Awesome... from a computer science major (currently a web programmer) and an amateur genealogist... so I TOTALLY understood everything you just said. :-)

My Scots Ancestors said...

Thanks Daphne - glad it's not just me!

GrannyPam said...

Holy cow! That is absolutely amazing. I live in a family of engineers who would probably not be amazed, but little words and feelings me is amazed. Too bad the numbers would get way too long, the binary system would be very useful.

T.K. said...

Geeky indeed, but how cool!

Kathy said...

Great finding! I am a computer programmer but I must not be geeky enough 'cause I never would have thought of this!

Tom said...

Strange, this word "geek". Is it a compliment or an insult? Is it what we used to call a "boffin"? Being in my late 70s I can remember when we used to admire technical competence, as do the Chinese as they overtake us all on the financial and industrial fronts...

Back to binaries - I use a five digit binary code in my family history software The Master Genealogist (TMG) to code which family line a person belongs to, as I am researching the five ancestral lines of my grand children. So 01 (binary 00001) is one line, 02 (binary 00010) the next, then 04 (binary 00100) the next, 08 (binary 01000) and 16 (binary 10000). 03 (binary 00011) is a member of both 01 and 02 lines. Numbers between 02, 04, 08 and 16 and above 16 would also be members of more than one line - a rare occurrence...

I also find binary useful to make starting ancestors sort correctly in a series of descendancy reports of one focus person. 0 is male ancestor, 1 is female and the binary goes into the Reference field in TMG.

Hope this helps


Anonymous said...

How do you number younger generation? The children, g children etc of No. 1?

Rachel R. said...

It is cool! That's one of the beauties of the Ahnentafel system - the mathematical relationships. But you don't have to convert it to binary to be able to see the relationships.

For instance, to find the father of any individual in the list, double his number. (Double plus one is his mother.)

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