Which Languages Influenced Which?
Written by Mike James   
Sunday, 26 January 2014

Wikipedia has a lot of data but seeing the patterns in it requires a little more work. Brendan Griffen has performed the necessary data mining and processing to give us hours of fun arguing about which language influenced which and how their creators relate to one another.

The idea is very simple. Wikipedia has a standard format for programming languages that includes an infobox where languages are listed in either "Influenced by" or "Influenced". The infoboxes are, of course, hand constructed and therefore not perfect. In particular there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule for interpreting "influence" between computer languages. It might be that the syntax is the same or it could be that they are judged to use the same deep approach to the problem. 

Even given the subjective nature of the data, it would be interesting to see the x Influenced y relationship turned into a graph and this is exactly what Brendan Griffen did using SPARQL, Python and Gephi.

The result is, as you might guess, very interesting:

 

langinfluencesmall

Click for full sized version.

There are some interesting anomalies and some indications that Wikipedia needs to edit some pages. For example, the group of Basic languages to the left doesn't connect to any of the Basic languages to the middle right.  

And the most influential languages are?

Haskell, Lisp and Java.

 

Another interesting chart has been constructed showing how people collaborated on lanaguages:

languagecreatorssmall

 

Click for full sized version.

 

You might also like to compare these graphs with ones created Ramio G√≥mez and already featured in I Programmer in 2013.

I think that the main conclusion from Brendan Griffen's work  is that Wikipedia's coverage of languages needs to be improved.

 

langinfluencesicon

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