# erdos auction

April 21, 2004 5:29 PM Subscribe

Decrease your Erdös number!!! An Ann Arbor complex systems researcher is offering the opportunity to bid on math's equivalent of the Bacon number - the winner of this auction will, upon research collaboration, obtain an Erdös number of 5. The bidding is currently at $83.00.

My friend Ben was the first bidder. He's been in touch with the seller, who considers this a work of conceptual art and a study in network dynamics.

posted by briank at 5:49 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by briank at 5:49 PM on April 21, 2004

Actually, that's pretty average (and median too) as erdös numbers go. Now an erdös number above 10, that I'd bid on…

posted by fvw at 5:55 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by fvw at 5:55 PM on April 21, 2004

You can't assign that shit! It's about publication. Conceptual art,

posted by anathema at 5:56 PM on April 21, 2004

**my ass**.posted by anathema at 5:56 PM on April 21, 2004

....why would you bid on a higher Erdos number?

Also this is the best auction to ever happen on ebay.

posted by kavasa at 5:56 PM on April 21, 2004

Also this is the best auction to ever happen on ebay.

posted by kavasa at 5:56 PM on April 21, 2004

Speak for yourself. I either want 0 or something high. All the other ones are common as muck.

posted by fvw at 6:01 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by fvw at 6:01 PM on April 21, 2004

This book by Albert-Laszlo Barbasi discusses the Erdös number and other general concepts involving networks. Very readable, even for a layperson like me.

posted by anathema at 6:01 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by anathema at 6:01 PM on April 21, 2004

The distraction of the Erdös number aside, doesn't anyone find the purchasing of someone's willingness to collaborate on academic paper kind of... tacky?

I mean, if you're in a position to co-author a paper that has a chance to be published (which is like every graduate student in maths, yeah?), you're already pretty much guaranteed a number close, if not better than 5, right?

posted by danny the boy at 6:02 PM on April 21, 2004

I mean, if you're in a position to co-author a paper that has a chance to be published (which is like every graduate student in maths, yeah?), you're already pretty much guaranteed a number close, if not better than 5, right?

posted by danny the boy at 6:02 PM on April 21, 2004

agh! anyway the book is "Linked: The New Science of Networks"

posted by anathema at 6:03 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by anathema at 6:03 PM on April 21, 2004

The Erdös Number Project, just in case people were wondering who has a 2 or lower (over 7k people).

posted by tittergrrl at 6:05 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by tittergrrl at 6:05 PM on April 21, 2004

*Clarification A correspondent reminds me that in this sale I am offering an Erdös number of the first kind (that is, counting all published papers on which any number of authors appear) -- not an Erdös number of the second kind, which only counts papers on which exactly two authors appear. I hope this clarifies. If it will help matters, I will throw in, at no extra charge, a Tozier number of the second kind -- to date a much rarer commodity.*

posted by anathema at 6:07 PM on April 21, 2004

The distraction of the Erdös number aside, doesn't anyone find the purchasing of someone's willingness to collaborate on academic paper kind of... tacky?

The distraction of the Erdös number aside, doesn't anyone find the purchasing of someone's willingness to collaborate on academic paper kind of... tacky?

I'd just love to fill out a grant application and list this as possible publications. Given the way the system works around my school this could be one of the better chances.

posted by Space Coyote at 6:09 PM on April 21, 2004

We are continuously adding new information about the collaboration graph and Erdös numbers, including the distribution of Erdös numbers (they range up to 15, but the average is less than 5, and almost everyone with a finite Erdös number has a number less than 8) and “Erdös numbers of the second kind”.From the Erdos Numbers Project site, linked by tittergrrl. Hmmm.

posted by mote at 6:35 PM on April 21, 2004

One of my college professors is a 2. If only I'd gone into mathematics as a major, I could be a 3 by now!

posted by mikeh at 6:41 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by mikeh at 6:41 PM on April 21, 2004

Why don't you just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?

posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:50 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:50 PM on April 21, 2004

Aaaargh! Sorry, wrong thread...

posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:50 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by inpHilltr8r at 7:50 PM on April 21, 2004

Mathematicians have all the fun. Although I wonder how many people with low numbers are from other scientific fields? What chance does a plant ecologist like myself have to gain entry into this exclusive club?

posted by Jimbob at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by Jimbob at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2004

I had a crazy tennis-playing Hungarian prof with number 1. Curse my lack of number-grabbing ambition.

posted by cortex at 9:57 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by cortex at 9:57 PM on April 21, 2004

There's a CS professor at Chicago who I'm pretty certain has a number of 1.

posted by kenko at 9:59 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by kenko at 9:59 PM on April 21, 2004

I once read Erdös' biography "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers" by Paul Hoffman. If you haven't read it and are even slightly interested in the study of mathematics theory, it makes for a fascinating read. Check it out.

posted by quasistoic at 10:31 PM on April 21, 2004

posted by quasistoic at 10:31 PM on April 21, 2004

Here is the vendor's weblog, with some comments on the auction.

He is keeping a count of the number of visitors to the Ebay page, and making a graph of the results, so this should be a good opportunity to answer Shane's recent question, How many hits does a front-page MeFi link give the linked site?

posted by verstegan at 11:59 PM on April 21, 2004

He is keeping a count of the number of visitors to the Ebay page, and making a graph of the results, so this should be a good opportunity to answer Shane's recent question, How many hits does a front-page MeFi link give the linked site?

posted by verstegan at 11:59 PM on April 21, 2004

*In addition it should be pointed out that the winner's new Erdös number of 5 can only be rightfully claimed upon acceptance and publication of the manuscript resulting from the collaboration! Until that time, the winner may consider discussing their Erdös number in public, insofar as it comes up in the course of conversation, as 0+5i.*

*groan*

posted by eddydamascene at 2:34 AM on April 22, 2004

Having a wonderchicken number of 1 (ie having co-consumed a bottle of some delicious boozy beverage with me) is

Unfortunately there are quite probably more than 509 people who already have that honour...

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on April 22, 2004

*way*cooler.Unfortunately there are quite probably more than 509 people who already have that honour...

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on April 22, 2004

Halfers. </poor teacher>

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:19 AM on April 22, 2004

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:19 AM on April 22, 2004

The folks at CrookedTimber weblog are offering lower numbers for free. This EBay auction can't touch the price or the lower number.

posted by nofundy at 6:52 AM on April 22, 2004

posted by nofundy at 6:52 AM on April 22, 2004

Wait! I found out that Paul Erdos has a Bacon Number of 4.

posted by JeffK at 11:28 AM on April 22, 2004

posted by JeffK at 11:28 AM on April 22, 2004

While Paul Erdos's Bacon number is four, Kevin Bacon's Erdos Number, like all who haven't published a mathematical paper, is infinite.

posted by kindall at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2004

posted by kindall at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2004

Hmm... If this memo (PDF, page 3) counts as a "mathematical publication," then my grandfather had an Erdos number of 2. I guess he might have either way, but it's not clear exactly who "Mark, C." is in this list.

posted by nickmark at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2004

posted by nickmark at 12:21 PM on April 22, 2004

kenko:

Do you mean Laci Babai? He's got an Erdos number of 1 three times over, in fact.

posted by jacobm at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2004

*There's a CS professor at Chicago who I'm pretty certain has a number of 1.*Do you mean Laci Babai? He's got an Erdos number of 1 three times over, in fact.

L. Babai, P. Erdos, S.M. Selkow: Random graphs isomorphism, SIAM J. on Computing 9 (1980), 628-635.

L. Babai, F.R.K. Chung, P. Erdos, R.L. Graham, J. Spencer: On graphs which contain all sparse graphs, in: "Theory and Practice of Combinatorics'' (A. Rosa, G. Sabidussi, J. Turgeon eds.) Annals of Discrete Math. 12 (1982), 21-26.

L. Babai, P. Erdos: Representation of group elements as short products, in: "Theory and Practice of Combinatorics'' (A. Rosa, G. Sabidussi, J. Turgeon eds.) Annals of Discrete Math. 12 (1982), 27-30.

posted by jacobm at 1:40 PM on April 22, 2004

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posted by tittergrrl at 5:41 PM on April 21, 2004