Assume, as was taken quite for granted in Galton's time, that surnames are passed on to all male children by their father. Suppose the number of a man's sons to be a random variable distributed on the set { 0, 1, 2, 3, ...}. Further suppose the numbers of different men's sons to be independent random variables, all having the same distribution.

Then the simplest substantial mathematical conclusion is that if the average number of a man's sons is 1 or less, then their surname will surely die out, and if it is more than 1, then there is more than zero probability that it will survive forever.

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