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1 Me: Hmmm. Having appeared in a comic with Kevin Bacon, I just need to get my other good friend Paul Erdős in a strip to attain an ErdősBacon number of 2!
2 Me: The only difficulty is that that would require me to think up a joke involving combinatoric theory.
3 {beat}
4 Me: Well, I'm sure I can arrange something.
4 [small caption]: This comic coauthored by David MorganMar and Paul Erdős
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Paul Erdős was a Hungarian mathematician who worked on various fields of mathematics, and was incredibly prolific in his publications. He was so prolific, that friends of his invented a joke concept known as the Erdős number.
A person's Erdős number is defined as:
This led to the natural extension of the ErdősBacon number, being the sum of one's Erdős and Bacon numbers. Since the requirement involves both having a published research paper and having acted in a film, the number of people with welldefined ErdősBacon numbers is quite low. Without stretching the strict definitions, the lowest ErdősBacon number known is 3, belonging to mathematician Daniel Kleitman, who wrote a paper with Erdős and appeared as an extra in Good Will Hunting, starring Minnie Driver, who appeared in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon.
My favourite, though, is that Natalie Portman has a strictly defined ErdősBacon number, which is 6, thanks to her coauthorship on a paper entitled "Frontal Lobe Activation during Object Permanence: Data from NearInfrared Spectroscopy", published in the journal NeuroImage. Beautiful and smart.
Although, strictly speaking, I don't have a finite Bacon number, I have written published research papers (in astronomy), and one was coauthored with a computer scientist/mathematician. My Erdős number, to the best of my knowledge, is 4:
David MorganMar and Geoff Bailey, "Xvoigt  An interactive absorption line fitting program for the X Window System," Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia 12 (2), 1995.Oh, and by the way, Paul Erdős' major field of research was combinatoric theory, a major part of which deals with permuting, or arranging, things.Geoff Bailey and Elias Dahlhaus, "Recognition of path graphs in linear time," Theoretical Computer Science (Ravello, 1995), 201210, World Sci. Publ., River Edge, NJ, 1996.
Elias Dahlhaus and Wayne D. Goddard, "MAD trees and distancehereditary graphs," Discrete Applied Mathematics 131 (2003), no. 1, 151167.
Wayne D. Goddard and Paul Erdős, "Crossing families," Combinatorica 14 (1994), no. 2, 127134.
I'd like to see a band adopt a name that instead of using a gratuitous heavy metal umlaut instead uses a heavy metal double acute accent. Something like: Gőatcrűsher.
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