Because everyone loves top 10 lists, a new book uses an algorithm to determine history’s most significant figures.
Computer science professor Steven Skiena and Google engineer Charles B. Ward created the formula for their book, “Who’s Bigger: Where Historical Figures Really Rank.”
“This is a book about measuring the ‘significance’ of historical figures,” the book’s opening chapter reads. “We do not answer these questions as historians might, through a principled assessment of their individual achievements. Instead, we evaluate each person by aggregating the traces of millions of opinions in a rigorous and principled manner. We rank historical figures just as Google ranks web pages, by integrating a diverse set of measurements about their reputation into a single consensus value.”
Their algorithm allows people to compare the significance of former President Chester A. Arthur to Justin Bieber, because, well, why not?
“Significance is related to fame but measures something different,” the opening chapter of the book reads. “Forgotten U.S. President Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886)  is more historically significant than young pop singer Justin Bieber (1994-) , even though he may have a less devoted following and lower contemporary name recognition.”
So who ranks in the top 10?
10.) Thomas Jefferson
9.) Alexander the Great
7.) Adolf Hitler
6.) George Washington
5.) Abraham Lincoln
4.) William Shakespeare
2.) Napoleon Bonaparte