Using methods borrowed from Google, a group of researchers has analyzed all Wikipedia pages and determined that, at least on the English language version of the site, Frank Sinatra is the world's most important person. Second place goes to Michael Jackson, and third to Pope Pius XII. When factoring in all 24 language editions of the online encyclopedia, the team found that Adolf Hitler ranked the most important person, while Michael Jackson was again second and Madonna third, reports the Guardian. "Our analysis shows that most important historical figures across Wikipedia language editions are born in western countries after the 17th century, and are male," the authors write.
The researchers combined two algorithms to reach these conclusions. First, Google's PageRank algorithm, which determines a page's importance based on how many other pages link to it. In using PageRank on Wikipedia, the most important person in the world was 18th-century Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus, likely because the pages of organism after organism link back to the "father of taxonomy." So the researchers added an algorithm called CheiRank, which determines importance based on the number of outgoing links, the thought being that an important person would himself be connected to other important people, things, and events. Using the two together—an approach they dubbed 2DRank—no one beat out Frank Sinatra on English pages or Adolf Hitler across all language versions. Last year, in a separate study analyzing academic references, one team deemed Karl Marx to be the world's most important scholar, according to the Smithsonian. (Click to read about one of Sinatra's quirks.)