January 4, 2016 – A new technology-based ranking of the world’s most influential universities has ranked The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 47th place worldwide and first place in Israel. The Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities is based on a computerized analysis of the number of times that institutions of higher education are mentioned in Wikipedia.

The new ranking applies algorithms that Google uses to rank websites in search engine results against the number of references to universities in the 24 different language editions of Wikipedia. Universities were ranked by their PageRank score (descending order), then by number of appearances in the 24 Wikipedia editions (descending order), and then by the century they were founded (ascending order).

afhu110Using the PageRank algorithm, the new technique ranked The Hebrew University at #47 in the world. (Another algorithm, the CheiRank algorithm, put The Hebrew University in 15th place worldwide; while the 2DRank algorithm put The Hebrew University in 13th place.) The top institutions in the Wikipedia Ranking of World Universities are listed here.

Created by Jose Lages and Antoine Patt at Université de Franche-Comte and Dima L. Shepelyansky at Université de Toulouse, the ranking methodology is intended to avoid cultural, historical or geographical biases that the researchers believe can affect traditional ranking systems.

“Ranking approaches are based on human selection rules which cannot be complete or can favor certain cultural choices and preferences. Thus it is useful to have an independent mathematical statistical method which would rank universities independently of any human rules. The Wikipedia ranking provides the firm mathematical statistical evaluation of world universities which can be viewed as a new independent ranking complementary to already existing approaches. We hope that our method will also find a broad usage together with other rankings,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

The PageRank algorithm that Google uses to rank websites in search results looks at the network of links between Internet sites to determine which are the most important, and ranks a node as important if other important nodes point to it. The researchers applied this process to Wikipedia articles, with each university mentioned in a Wikipedia article counted as a node in the network, and with the links pointing to it determining how high it ranks.

The researchers analyzed 24 different language editions of Wikipedia, containing about 4 million articles in English, 1.5 million in German, and around 1 million in each of Dutch, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish, along with several other languages.

The UK led the rankings, with Cambridge and Oxford taking first and second place, followed by American universities Harvard, Columbia and Princeton. Outside the U.S. and the UK, Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany was the highest-ranked, in 11th place, followed by Uppsala University in Sweden, in 15th place.

Other Israeli institutions on the list include Technion – Israel Institute of Technology (# 108), Tel Aviv University (# 168), Weizmann Institute of Science (#183), Bar-Ilan University (# 201), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (# 221), University of Haifa (# 211), Ariel University (# 321), and Holon Institute of Technology (# 670).

The new ranking method produced results that have about 60% overlap with the Top 100 in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 90% overlap with the Top 10. In that ranking — also known as the Shanghai Ranking and widely considered the most objective ranking of the world’s universities — The Hebrew University is ranked # 1 in Israel, # 3 in Asia, and # 67 among more than 1,200 universities surveyed.