52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 3:
Long Line

Long Line Topology & Genealogy

This weeks prompt brought to mind the mathematical theory of long line topology. It occurs to me that genealogy research could be analogous to this theory. We all have a known lineage and then it is longer. That’s what long line topology is about, there are real lines and then they are longer. [1]  In other words, lines, or rays, or ordinal numbers, have no end, they are always longer. I would say the same is true of our genealogical lineages.

Long Lineages

I have traced my maternal and paternal lineages over many generations, to the “nth” great grandparent, if you will. [2]  But, there is always another generation, an “n+1” great grandparent. The problem for genealogists is finding the documentation and putting a name to the n+1 great grandparent. Through research, genealogists can solve this long line problem, almost. Say we discover our n+1 great grandparent on a particular lineage. We, therefore, have lengthened our real, or known, lineage and there is now a new n+1 great grandparent to discover.

Do you see what I mean? We all have long lineages, but then they are longer.


1. Entry for long line topology, Wikipedia.com; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_line_(topology)

2. Osborn family tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/13493206/