The study of cultural evolutionary patterns, particularly when dealing with artifacts, is constrained by a lack of powerful quantitative methods. In this work, the project team shows that a simple network approach can reconstruct phylogenetic trees from existing databases of recorded artifact influences. They created novel network tools to visualize the large-scale evolution of programming languages. The simple idea of trees of influence can be extended to many other fields beyond the study of programming languages, offering a new theoretical framework to rigorously quantify cultural and technological evolution.

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