I’d Like to Thank the Academy …and Olivier Danvy

Almost every academic paper includes a list of people being thanked for somehow assisting on the paper. It’s referees, but it also includes colleagues, family, friends, and who knows whoever else.

So, who is the most thanked person in science? Sure, it’s a silly question, but darn it all, it’s fun. After all, being the most-thanked person in science must be a happy position to be in. To have so many smart people thanking you … bliss.

Well, who is it? The answer, according to Lee Giles and co-author Isaac Councill (one of Giles’ Ph.d. students) in a piece in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is … drumroll … Olivier Danvy. Say who?

Danvy, a French researcher who works on programming languages at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, says that at first he was “stunned” to find his name at the top of the list.

But on reflection, he puts it down to “a series of coincidences”. He is multidisciplinary, well-travelled, is involved with an international PhD programme, and belongs to a university department that encourages international visitors.

“It’s a snowball effect,” says Danvy, who admits to being a helpful sort of fellow. “I encourage people a lot, and advise many students on their papers.”