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 number was introduced by mathematicians Tim Hsu and David Grabiner in 1999 or earlier; 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, though it is not sufficient.

Paul Erdős has an Erdős–Bacon number of 3, having a Bacon number of 3 and an Erdős number of 0. He appeared in N is a Number: A Portrait of Paul Erdős alongside Ronald Graham, who was in Directors Cut (2016) with Dave Johnson, who was in Frost/Nixon with Kevin Bacon.


Mathematician Daniel Kleitman has a combined number 3: 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]

Astronomer Carl Sagan has an Erdős number of 4,[5] via Steven J. Ostro, and a Bacon number of 2,[6] for a total of 6. Physicist Richard Feynman has an Erdős number of 3[7] and a Bacon number of 3, having appeared in the film Anti-Clock alongside Tony Tang.[8]

Geneticist Jonathan Pritchard appeared in the 1998 movie Without Limits[9] which gives him a Bacon number of 2.[10] Pritchard has an Erdős number of 4[11][12][13][14] 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.[15]


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,[16][17][18] and was cast alongside Kevin Bacon in Patriots Day, giving him a Bacon number of 1.[19]

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, both of them having worked with Margaret Easley.[2]

Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman has an Erdős–Bacon number of 7. She collaborated (using her birth name, Natalie Hershlag) with Abigail A. Baird,[20] who has a collaboration path[21][22][23] leading to Joseph Gillis, who has an Erdős number of 1.[24] 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",[25] after he suggested on BBC Radio 4 that such a study could be done.[26] Another author of that paper, Geraint Rees, has an Erdős number of 5,[27][28][29] which gives Firth an Erdős number of 6. Firth's Bacon number of 1 is due to his appearance in Where the Truth Lies.[30]


Name Erdős number Bacon number Erdős–Bacon number
Behe, Michael J.Michael J. Behe 4[31] 3[32][a][b] 7
Bialik, MayimMayim Bialik 5[33] 2[33] 7
Billingsley, PatrickPatrick Billingsley 4[34][35][36][37] 2[38] 6
Chan, Albert M.Albert M. Chan 3[16][17][18] 1[19] 4
Dalrymple, DavidDavid Dalrymple 3[39][40][41] 2[a][b][42] 5[a][b]
Dembski, William A.William A. Dembski 4[43][44][45][46] 2[a][47] 6
Joel Fajans 3[48][49][50] 2[51][52][53] 5[a][b]
Feynman, RichardRichard Feynman 3[7] 3[8] 6
Hare, DonovanDonovan Hare 2[54][55] 2[56][57] 4
Houh, HenryHenry Houh 5[58][59][60][61][62] 2[63][64] 7
Knight, RobertRobert Knight 4[65][66][67][68] 2[b][69][70] 6[b]
Mann, Michael E.Michael E. Mann 5[71] 3[72] 8
Marks II, Robert J.Robert J. Marks II 3[43][44][45] 2[73][74][75] 5
McKellar, DanicaDanica McKellar 4[76][77][78][79] 2[c] 6
Metropolis, NicholasNicholas Metropolis 2[80] 2[81] 4
Portman, NatalieNatalie Portman (Hershlag) 5[20][21][22][23][24] 2[c] 7
Pritchard, JonathanJonathan Pritchard 4[11][14][82][83] 2[9][10] 6
Sagan, CarlCarl Sagan 4[7] 2[a][6] 6
Gonczarowski, YannaiYannai Gonczarowski 2[84] 3[84] 5
Van Snellenberg, JaredJared Van Snellenberg 4[85][86][87][88] 2[89][90] 6
Stern, TomerTomer Stern 4[91][92][93][94] 3[95][96][97] 7
Strogatz, StevenSteven Strogatz 3[98][99][100] 1[a][b][101] 4[a][b]
Chomsky, NoamNoam Chomsky 4[102][103][104][105] 3[a][b][101] 7[a][b]
Chazelle, BernardBernard Chazelle 2[106][107] 3[108] 5
Gyöngy, IstvánIstván Gyöngy 3[109][110][111] 3[112] 6
Vidas, TimothyTimothy Vidas 4 [113][114][115][116] 3[a][b][117][118][119] 7
Zupan, AlexAlex Zupan 5 [120][121][122][123] [124] 3 [125][126][127] 8
Goldberg, KenKen Goldberg 3[128][129][130] 3[131][132][133] 6
Firth, ColinColin Firth 5[25] 1[30] 6
Ken Ono 2[134] 2[135] 4[135]
Mulliner, CollinCollin Mulliner 4[136] 4[136] 8
Matthew Kirchner 4[137] 3[138] 7


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Includes role as self.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Includes documentary credit.
  3. ^ a b See discussion above (Actors).


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