Erdős–Bacon number

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A person's Erdős–Bacon number is the sum of one's Erdős number—which measures the "collaborative distance" in authoring academic papers between that person and Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős—and one's Bacon number—which represents the number of links, through roles in films, by which the individual is separated from American actor Kevin Bacon.[1][2] The lower the number, the closer a person is to Erdős and Bacon, which reflects a small world phenomenon in academia and entertainment.[3]

The combined Erdős/Bacon [sic] number was introduced by mathematicians Tim Hsu and David Grabiner sometime before late-January 1999, when they pointed out that Daniel Kleitman has a combined number of 3: a Bacon number of 2 and Erdős number of 1.[4]

To have a defined Erdős–Bacon number, it is necessary to have both appeared in a film and co-authored an academic paper, although this in and of itself is not sufficient.


Mathematician Daniel Kleitman has the Erdős–Bacon number of 3; it is the lowest among scientists: he is a co-author of Erdős on multiple papers, and has a Bacon number of 2, via Minnie Driver in Good Will Hunting.[4]

Mathematician Ken Ono has an Erdős–Bacon number of 4;[5] 2 for Erdős[citation needed] and 2 for Bacon.[5]

Mathematician Doron Zeilberger has an Erdős–Bacon number of 5.[6] Computer scientist Tom Porter also has an Erdős–Bacon number of 5; 3 for Erdős in two ways[7][8] and 2 for Bacon.[9]

Astronomer Carl Sagan has an Erdős number of 4 (via Steven J. Ostro) and a Bacon number of 2 (Sagan and Bacon having appeared with Johnny Carson on episodes of The Tonight Show), for a total of 6.[10] Physicist Richard Feynman has an Erdős number of 3, and a Bacon number of 3, having appeared in the film Anti-Clock alongside Tony Tang.[11] Geneticist Jonathan Pritchard appeared in the 1998 movie Without Limits[12] which gives him a Bacon number of 2.[13] Pritchard has an Erdős number of 4[14][15][16][17] thus giving him an Erdős–Bacon number of 6. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has an Erdős–Bacon number of 6: his Bacon number of 2 (via his appearance alongside John Cleese in Monty Python Live (Mostly) who acted alongside Kevin Bacon in The Big Picture) is lower than his Erdős number of 4.[18]


Canadian actor Albert M. Chan has an Erdős–Bacon number of 4. He co-authored a peer-reviewed paper on Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing, giving him an Erdős number of 3,[19][20][21] and was cast alongside Kevin Bacon in Patriots Day, giving him a Bacon number of 1.[22]

Danica McKellar, who played Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, has an Erdős–Bacon number of 6, having coauthored a mathematics paper published while an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her paper gives her an Erdős number of 4, and she has a Bacon number of 2, having worked with Margaret Easley.[2]

American actress Natalie Portman has an Erdős–Bacon number of 7. She collaborated (using her birth name, Natalie Hershlag) with Abigail A. Baird,[23] who has a collaboration path[24][25][26] leading to Joseph Gillis, who has an Erdős number of 1.[27] Portman appeared in A Powerful Noise Live (2009) with Sarah Michelle Gellar, who appeared in The Air I Breathe (2007) with Bacon, giving Portman a Bacon number of 2 and an Erdős number of 5.

British actor Colin Firth has an Erdős–Bacon number of 7. Firth is credited as co-author of a neuroscience paper, "Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults",[28] after he suggested on BBC Radio 4 that such a study could be done.[29] Another author of that paper, Geraint Rees, has an Erdős number of 5,[30][31][32] which gives Firth an Erdős number of 6. Firth's Bacon number of 1 is due to his appearance in Where the Truth Lies.[33]

Kristen Stewart has an Erdős–Bacon number of 7; she is credited as a co-author on an artificial intelligence paper that was written after a technique was used for her short film Come Swim, giving her an Erdős number of 5,[34][35] and she co-starred with Michael Sheen in Twilight, who co-starred with Bacon in Frost/Nixon, giving her a Bacon number of 2.

American scholar and actor Michael M. Chemers has an Erdös-Bacon number of 6. He co-authored a 2018 paper about Game of Thrones with mathematician Andrew Beveridge,[36] who has an Erdös number of 2, giving him an Erdös number of 3, and co-starred in two films (When Tyrants Kiss, 2004; Before the Thunder, 2018)[37] both of which give him a Bacon number of 3 through a number of co-stars.


Name Erdős number Bacon number Erdős–Bacon number
Michael J. Behe 4[38] 3[a][b][39] 7[a][b]
Mayim Bialik 5 2 7[40]
Patrick Billingsley 4[41][42][43][44] 2[45] 6
Albert M. Chan 3[19][20][21] 1[22] 4
Bernard Chazelle 2[46][47] 3[48] 5
Paul Check 2[49][50] 2[51][52] 4
Michael M. Chemers 3[36] 3[37] 6
Noam Chomsky 4[53][54][55][56] 3[a][b][57] 7[a][b]
David Dalrymple 3[58][59][60] 2[a][b][61] 5[a][b]
William A. Dembski 4[62][63][64][65] 2[a][66] 6[a]
Joel Fajans 3[67][68][69] 2[a][b][70][71][72] 5[a][b]
Richard Feynman 3 3 6[11]
Colin Firth 5[c][28] 1[33] 6
Ken Goldberg 3[73][74][75] 3[76][77][78] 6
Yannai Gonczarowski 2[79] 3[79] 5
István Gyöngy 3[80][81][82] 3[83] 6
Donovan Hare 2[84][85] 2[86][87] 4
Stephen Hawking 4 2[a] 6[18]
Henry Houh 5[88][89][90][91][92] 2[93][94] 7
Matthew Kirchner 4[95] 3[96] 7
Daniel Kleitman 1 2 3[4]
Robert Knight 4[97][98][99][100] 2[b][101][102] 6[b]
Michael E. Mann 5[103] 3[104] 8
Robert J. Marks II 3[62][63][64] 2[105][106][107] 5
Danica McKellar 4[108][109][110][111] 2[c] 6
Nicholas Metropolis 2[11] 2[112] 4
Collin Mulliner 4[113] 4[113] 8
Ken Ono 2[114] 2[5] 4
Tom Porter 3[114] (in two ways)[7][8] 2[a][b][9] 5[a][b]
Natalie Portman (Hershlag) 5[23][24][25][26][27] 2[c] 7
Jonathan Pritchard 4[14][17][15][16] 2[12][13] 6
Carl Sagan 4 2[a] 6[10]
Donal Simmie 5[115][116][117][118][119] 2[120][121] 7
Jared Van Snellenberg 4[122][123][124][125] 2[126][127] 6
Tomer Stern 4[128][129][130][131] 3[132][133][134] 7
Kristen Stewart 5[34] 2[135][136] 7
Steven Strogatz 3[137][138][139] 1[a][b][57] 4[a][b]
Richard Thaler 3[140][141] [142] 2[143][a][144] 5
Timothy Vidas 4 [145][146][147][148] 3[a][b][149][150][151] 7[a][b]
P.W. Wade 4[152] 3[153] 7
Jeff Westbrook 3[154][155] 3[154][155] 6
Doron Zeilberger 2[156][27] 3[a][157][158][159] 5[a][b]
Alex Zupan 5[160][161][162][163] [164] 3[165][166][167] 8


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Includes role as self.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Includes documentary credit.
  3. ^ a b c See discussion above (Actors).


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