Most people have heard of the Bacon number, the number of degrees of separation an actor has from Kevin Bacon, based of the Six Degrees of Separation idea. Well, this concept of looking up and assigning numbers based on the separation distance was actually borrowed from the Erdős number, which gives the degrees of collaboration between the person and the mathematician Paul Erdős.
I was thinking the other day that there is a good chance I have an Erdős number. I have published a peer-reviewed paper while in grad school, and my co-author has published dozens of papers in several fields, and his PhD advisor and then his PhD advisor are/were very famous in fluid dynamics, which is closely tied to mathematics, so there is a good probability of me having a fairly low Erdős number. You can look up the Erdős number for a person here, but since it only indexes from mathematics journals it’s not nearly as robust and complete as it could be. So while myself and my PhD advisor aren’t listed as having Erdős numbers, his advisor is, so I can just add 2 to that number to get my Erdős number. So my Erdős number trace is the following:
I coathored with Roger T. Bonnecaze on the following paper:
Bassett, D.W. & Bonnecaze, R.T. 2006 Immersion lithography for laser mask writing, J. Vac. Soc. Tech. B, 24(6), 2659-2667.
Roger T. Bonnecaze coauthored with John F. Brady on the following paper:
Bonnecaze, R. T. and Brady, J. F. (1992) Dynamic simulation of an electrorheological fluid. Journal of Chemical Physics, 96 (3). pp. 2183-2202.
John F. Brady coauthored with Howard Brenner on the following paper:
Koch, Donald L.; Cox, Raymond G.; Brenner, Howard; Brady, John F. The effect of order on dispersion in porous media. J. Fluid Mech. 200 (1989), 173–188.
Howard Brenner coauthored with Ali Nadim on the following paper:
Nadim, A.; Cox, R. G.; Brenner, H. Taylor dispersion in concentrated suspensions of rotating cylinders. J. Fluid Mech. 164 (1986), 185–215.
Ali Nadim coauthored with Peter Salamon on the following paper:
Limon, Alfonso; Bertuglia, Silvia; Nadim, Ali; Salamon, Peter Oxygen transport from the outer boundary of a pulsating wall of an arteriole. Math. Comput. Simulation 73 (2006), no. 1-4, 175–182.
And finally, Peter Salamon coauthored with Paul Erdős on the following paper:
Salamon, Peter; Erdős, Paul The solution to a problem of Grünbaum. Canad. Math. Bull. 31 (1988), no. 2, 129–138.
So there you have it, my Erdős number is 6.
So for the few people that have been able to act in Hollywood and publish in academia, there is the Erdős-Bacon number, simply a sum of one’s Erdős number and Bacon number. People with low Erdős-Bacon numbers generally fall into two categories: prominent actors or actresses who have also published something in academia, famous examples are Danica McKellar and Natalie Portman. The other group with low numbers are mathematicians and scientists that have had cameos in various films. These include Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, though there are less famous physicists and mathematicians that have lower numbers. I was lamenting the fact that I could never have a Bacon number, but then I realized that I in fact have been on TV once! If one stretches the rules for a Bacon number to include TV, then it’s very possible I could have a link back to Kevin Bacon himself! The problem: the one time I appeared on TV that I know of, it was on a daytime talk/variety show in Japan. The show is called Chichin Puipui, which comes from a Japanese nonsense word that has similar connotations to ‘abra-cadabra’ or ‘hocus pocus’ in English. I briefly appeared on it when I was a student at Ritsumeikan University in November of 2000. The reason is because the Bush vs. Gore Florida election brouhaha was just getting into full gear making international news, so the local affiliate in Kyoto went to the University to find some Americans and get their spin on the situation. They interviewed myself, another American student, and an American professor teaching there (with unbelievably awesome Japanese).
It might sound obscure, but Chichin Puipui has been going for over a decade (since at least 2000, and it’s still on the air), and hundreds of actors and actresses have been guests on the show. To keep things fair though, I will limit myself to people on the IMDB page for the show. So starting down the list and putting people into the Oracle of Bacon, I get the following from Yumiko Fujita:
I was in Chichin Puipui (2000) with
Yumiko Fujita (I) was in Drugstore Girl (2003) with
Akira Emoto was in Rain Fall (2009) with
Gary Oldman was in Murder in the First (1995) with
This would give me a Bacon number of 4. However I think the link from me to Yumiko Fujita is pretty weak. She could have been on that show years after the one time I was, so I think it would be better to link me to someone that was on the same episode of the show. Of course there’s no way to look up who was on the show every day for the past 12 years, nor do I even know exactly what day it was I appeared on it. But I know for certain there was at least one person who was on the same episode of the show: the host. The host at the time is a TV personality named Junichi Sumi. According to his wikipedia page he hasn’t been in any movies (he has no IMDB entry either), but he has been on quite a few TV shows and such. Choosing a show he was on that looks promising, I took a look at Utaban, a popular music show where the hosts interview various musicians/idols/boy bands/girl bands/etc. and then they perform a song from their latest album they are invariably there to promote (the Japanese media industry has excellent integration between TV and music). So Junichi Sumi is listed as having appeared on the show before (probably just as a regular guest, not as a singer), and one of the two hosts of the show is Masahiro Nakai of SMAP fame (or infamy, if you share my tastes). He has been in many TV shows and movies, and so he has a well-defined Bacon number. So my stricter Bacon number is the following:
I was in Chichin Puipui (2000) with
Junichi Sumi was in Utaban (2007) with
Masahiro Nakai who was in Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai (2008) with
Madison Mason who was in Pearl Harbor (2001) with
Cuba Gooding, Jr. who was in A Few Good Men (1992) with
So this gives me a Bacon Number of 5, still not too bad. And if you total both together, I end up with an Erdős–Bacon number of 11. Not nearly as low as everyone listed on the Wikipedia page, but not too bad for someone that will probably never have their own Wikipedia page.