Revealed: The Most Influential People Ever

It's an age-old pub chat question: who is the most influential person around? Who is it that we all look to for guidance and leadership? These days you might say David Beckham, or Kanye West are probably in that realm.

But a team of researchers at the University of Toulouse have decided to tackle a far more rigorous question: who is the most influential person ever?

And, using two algorithms and the pages of Wikipedia, they have an answer. A team led by Young-Ho Eom studied 24 separate language versions of Wikipedia to discover the most heavily linked individuals. They used both the Google PageRank algorithm - which measures ingoing links only - and the 2DRank algorithm, which measures both ingoing and outgoing links. The former is probably the best measure of pure influence on others.

The winner, via PageRank, was the Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, Carl Linnaeus, who instigated the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature, with Jesus and Aristole taking 2nd and 3rd place. Using 2DRank, Adolf Hitler was the 'winner', edging out Michael Jackson and Madonna.

The other interesting finding was that the US and Germany can lay claim to having birthed the most of the top influencers - using either method.

Take a look at the full list below and look at the paper in full here.

Most Influential People

PageRank: (ingoing links only)

1. Carl Linnaeus

2. Jesus

3. Aristotle

4. Napoleon

5. Adolf Hitler

6. Julius Caesar

7. Plato

8. William Shakespeare

9. Albert Einstein

10. Elizabeth II

2DRank: (ingoing and outgoing links)

1. Adolf Hitler

2. Michael Jackson

3. Madonna

4. Jesus

5. Ludwig van Beethoven

6. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

7. Pope Benedict XVI

8. Alexander the Great

9. Charles Darwin

10. Barack Obama

Birthplace Distribution of Top Historical Figures

PageRank: (ingoing links only)

1. Germany

2. US

3. Italy

4. UK

5. France

6. Greece

7. Russia

8. Turkey

9. China

10. India

2DRank: (ingoing and outgoing links)

1. US

2. Germany

3. UK

4. Italy

5. Japan

6. China

7. France

8. Turkey

9. Greece

10. India

(Images: Rex/Getty)

[via Gizmodo]