Saturday, February 23, 2008


New site aims at reuniting Jewish people (JPost)
The Famillion company, an Israeli start-up, is building a giant digital family tree that will eventually link every Jew, their non-Jewish relatives and - if things go as planned - all of humanity.

The initiative is the brainchild of Danny Rolls, who co-founded Famillion with Iphtach Cohen, a computer expert and former IAF pilot.

The project is straightforward, the execution nearly complete, and the potential revolutionary.

The idea was born eight years ago, "when my wife, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute [of Science in Rehovot], dragged me to get genetic tests," Rolls says. "I had to create my family tree for the geneticist, and I suddenly had a vision that my tree was sitting in the geneticist's drawer with all these other trees, and if they linked up they would eventually connect the whole world."

It took five years for the vision of networked family trees to turn into something useable, its development driven by research papers Danny and Asya Rolls read at Weizmann in bioinformatics - how computing systems handle data about biological systems - and graph theory, which studies the depiction of mathematical relationships.

The result is a Web site, in English and Hebrew versions ( and, in which users can build their family trees using a simple graphical interface. You just drag your family members around the screen.

There's nothing new, however, in a graphical family tree program. What's new here, the program's real power, is an underlying technology that can recognize similarities in trees, and merge corresponding sections of completely independent trees.

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