Paul Erdos has (or rather had) an Erdos Number of zero. Everyone else has an Erdos Number equal to one plus the lowest Erdos Number of anyone they have written a mathematical paper with. Consequently, Erdos' co-authors have a number of 1, their co-authors have a number of 2, etc.

Erdos Numbers are amusing because Paul Erdos published papers with so many people - he was the most prolific mathematician of our time - and because mathematicians collaborate so much, hence *every* mathematician has an Erdos Number. The idea wouldn't work for other fields where people don't connect as much (such as history, perhaps). It does work for similarly promiscuous fields - for example, the Bacon Number in cinema acting.

Wed, 19 Nov 2003 09:37:20 GMT | Front Page | Recent Changes | Message Of The Day |