Thursday, December 15, 2005

Greene Bacon and Lillet

You are no doubt familiar with the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. But did you know that Lillet's Bacon Number is 2? That is to say, she has been in a motion picture with someone who has been in a motion picture with Kevin Bacon.


You can check your own Bacon Number at The Oracle of Bacon, supposing you have had a role in a for-real movie. My own Bacon Number is infinite, as I have never appeared in a major (or minor) motion picture. I do, however, have a finite Erdös Number. Paul Erdös was an incredibly prolific mathematician who wrote so many papers with so many people that it is reasonably interesting to track the collaborative distance from Erdös to someone else. Erdös had an Erdös Number of 0. If you published a paper with Erdos you have an Erdös Number of 1. If you published a paper with someone who published a paper with Erdös, you have an Erdös Number of 2. And so on, as with Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.


Rather ridiculously, I have an Erdös Number of 3, as I once published a paper with my graduate advisor, who in turn had published a paper with one of Erdös' collaborators. That paper is not only slight but is also on a topic that is no longer of interest to anyone. Moreover, my contribution to the paper was minimal. Still, technically, I have an Erdös Number of 3. Einstein's Erdös Number is 2. John Nash — that Beautiful Mind guy — his Erdös Number is 4. My Erdös Number is about the same as the average of the Erdös Numbers of Fields Medal winners, which is something like Corey Haim having the same Bacon Number as John Gielgud,

which in fact is the case, as Corey Haim was in Silver Bullet (1985) with Julius LeFlore and Julius LeFlore was in In the Cut (2003) with Kevin Bacon, and John Gielgud was in Haunted (1995) with Aidan Quinn (I) and Aidan Quinn (I) was in Cavedweller (2004) with Kevin Bacon. I mean, it would be like that if Kevin Bacon were to acting what Erdös was to mathematics, which he isn't — at least as far as I can tell. Lillet will have final say in this blog on that matter.


All of this is apropos only of the fact that I learned today of the Erdös-Bacon Number. This is the sum of one's Erdös and Bacon Numbers, and, as you might surmise, there are very few people who have finite E-B Numbers. Brian Greene — the Elegant Universe guy — is one. He (comme moi) has an Erdös Number of 3, but also, by virtue of his appearance in Frequency, has a Bacon number of 2, resulting in an impressive and not-yet-bettered Erdös-Bacon Number of 5.


Lillet and I excitedly realized this evening that if she and I were to co-author a mathematical paper she would have a Brian Greene-tying Erdös-Bacon Number. We thought this because a) we have trouble distinguishing between ourselves, so we believed that her Erdös Number would be the same as mine, and b) we get excited about silly things and oh also sometimes drunk.

The truth is that once we co-author this paper Lillet will have an E-B Number of 6 which is still really fucking impressive, more impressive than the E-B of anyone you happen to know, unless you happen to know Brian Greene. We leave it up to you, our readers, to decide the topic of our paper. We figure the Discovery Institute will publish it. They'll publish anything.


Blogger Joolya said...

Wow - the blogosphere/collective unconscious is a small world! First time I see your blog and I was about to write about network theory and Hungarian mathematicians . . .

10:38 AM  
Blogger corpodibacco said...

Bacon number... You guys should definitively go on vacation.

Well, all right, we all should. :)

ps. I have an almost infinte number with everyone that counts in the big world. But I used to play this game: to count all the famous guys the girls I had been with were been with.

Can someone be anymore, pathethic?

I had quite a record though...

2:46 PM  
Blogger corpodibacco said...

About the paper, it obviously should have to do with mathematics and invisibility, as in that Kevin Bacon movie.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Trey Desolay said...

We are taking a vacation. We leave for our honeymoon in less than three weeks!

As for your game, corpo, I will take a pass.

And let's not forget that Kevin Bacon appeared in Queens Logic

3:44 PM  
Blogger Mr. H.K. said...

I have a Bacon number of 1.

Erdos is 0. Zero, I say!

So does that make me a one or a none? I'm confused.

Have a great Honeymoon!

Pictures, please...


Mr. H.K.
Postcards from Hell's

And I Quote Blog

9:43 PM  
Blogger Trey Desolay said...

Sorry, Mr. H.K. Only Erdös' Erdös Number is 0. If you've never published a paper with Erdös, or with someone who has an Erdös Number, then your Erdös Number is infinite. Specifically, it is ℵ₀. Your Erdös-Bacon number is ℵ₀, too, since ℵ₀ + 1 = ℵ₀.

Don't feel bad. My Erdös-Bacon Number is also ℵ₀.

6:21 PM  

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