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Finally I know my Erdős number

04 January 2021

My Erdős Number conforms to 6 degrees of separation

Paul Erdős was a Hungarian mathematician who authored or co-authored hundreds of publications across a wide variety of disciplines. He was so prolific that a certain level of prestige is associated to having co-authored a paper with him. The idea for the Erdős Number came from another mathemetician, Casper Goffman. This has now turned into a kind of science cult, in the same way that the Bacon number (actually a newer concept stemming from the Erdős Number) has in acting (see here). Those who have co-authored with Erdős are given an Erdős number of 1. Someone who has never written a paper with Erdős, but who has co-authored a paper with one of his co-authors are given an Erdős number of 2, and so on with increasing degrees of separation. As noted by Lenski, while the ranks of those with 6 degrees of separation from Erdős and Bacon are quite high, very few people have an Erdős-Bacon Number. 

For a long time, I've been pestering my mathatically inclined collaborators to find out what their Erdős number is so that I can plot my own. It turns out that I need not have bothered as my line is more direct than I had thought. 

My six degrees of separation:

Daniel Kleitman published many papers with Erdős, and has an Erdős number of 1

Lior Pachter has an Erdős number of 2, having co-authored a publication with Daniel Kleitman.

Richard Lenski has an Erdős number of 3, having co-authored a publication with Lior Pachter.

Jonathan Losos has an Erdős number of 4, having co-authored a publication with Richard Lenski.

Anthony Herrel has an Erdős number of 5, having co-authored a publication with Jonathan Losos.

I therefore have an Erdős number of 6, having co-authored a publication with Anthony Herrel

Thus my collaborators have either an Erdős number of 7 or lower (if they've got a more direct line to Erdős). It could be that my Erdős number is lower, or will get lower. Stay tuned for any updates!

Here are the relevant publications:

Beerenwinkel, N., Pachter, L., Sturmfels, B., Elena, S.F. and Lenski, R.E., 2007. Analysis of epistatic interactions and fitness landscapes using a new geometric approach. BMC Evolutionary Biology7(1), 1-12.

Blount, Z.D., Lenski, R.E. and Losos, J.B., 2018. Contingency and determinism in evolution: Replaying life’s tape. Science362  (6415).

Erdös, P. and Kleitman, D.J., 1968. On coloring graphs to maximize the proportion of multicolored k-edges. Journal of Combinatorial Theory5(2), pp.164-169.

Kleitman, D. and Pachter, L., 1998. Finding convex sets among points in the plane. Discrete & Computational Geometry19(3), pp.405-410.

Measey, G.J., & Herrel, A. 2006. Rotational feeding in caecilians: putting a spin on the evolution of cranial design. Biology Letters 2, 485-487.

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