Number of Ancestors 1000 Years Ago
Date: 11/22/1999 at 00:02:42 From: Jana Larman Subject: Anthropology Assuming 25 years per generation, calculate how many living relatives you would have had 1,000 years ago (living in AD 998 - not the cumulative number). What is the simplified formula for this type of calculation?
Date: 11/22/1999 at 10:56:54 From: Doctor Rob Subject: Re: Anthropology Thanks for writing to Ask Dr. Math, Jana. Boy, did you ask the right guy - not only do I know the answer, I am a genealogist, too. 1 generation ago, 25 years ago, you had 2 parents 2 generations ago, 50 years ago, you had 4 grandparents 3 generations ago, 75 years ago, you had 8 great-grandparents N generations ago, 25*N years ago, you had 2^N great-...-grandparents For 1000 years ago set 25*N = 1000, solve for N, and raise 2 to that power. For Y years ago, set 25*N = Y, solve for N, and raise 2 to that power. As a check, my answer came out to more than 1,000,000,000,000. This is simplified, because we are not accounting for overlap of lifespans, so that members of two separate generations could be living at the same time. This also ignores the fact that cousins marry, and, in fact, such marriages are rather more common than generally thought. For example, in my 11th generation of ancestors, one couple appears no fewer than five times! Many other ancestors appear more than once, too, so instead of 2048 = 2^11 different people, a little under 2000 actually appear. This phenomenon gets more pronounced the farther back one goes, so a smaller and smaller proportion of one's family tree consists of distinct people with each generation. - Doctor Rob, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
Search the Dr. Math Library:
Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.