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Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Erdős numbers
catamorphism has recently linked to a discussion on Wikipedia about whether or not categories should be kept of people by Erdős number. This is well worth reading as a prime example of all that is hilarious about Wikipedia even if your eyes will glaze over and your synapses will shut dow well before you even get through 10% of it, but it is not the point of this post.

It set me thinking about my own Erdős number. Now, clearly, since I have never co-authored an academic paper in my life, by any reasonable measure my Erdős number is either infinite or undefined. Equally clearly, though, I'm not going to let minor problems like facts get in the way here. After all, I've never appeared in a Hollywood movie either, but that doesn't stop me from claiming a Bacon number of 4.

(I appeared in several school plays with Ralf Little, who has a Bacon number of 3. Therefore, I clearly have a Bacon number of 4, right?)

So all I need now is a fake Erdős number to go with my fake Bacon number. I thought about this quandary for a while in bed last night, and came to the conclusion that I have a fake Erdős number of 2, by virtue of the entity that started this train of thought in the first pace, Wikipedia.

Sure, Wikipedia is only published on the web, but that's still a form of publishing, right? And sure, it has had thousands if not millions of contributors, but the number of collaborators involved is irrelevant in calculating Erdős number. As such, since I have collaborated on Wikipedia with at least 3 people of Erdős number 1, I have fake Erdős number of 2, and therefore a fake Erdős–Bacon number of 6.

How about you lot?

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(Deleted comment)
I suppose my Erdős number is the same as yours since I've also contributed to Wikipedia. As for Bacon number, if movies in production count, I was in orchestra in high school with Ilana Cohen, who isn't showing up in the search but as best as I can tell from the costars has a Bacon number 3, so that makes me 4? So yeah. 6 for me too.

Does it count if you "collaborated on Wikipedia", or do you have to have worked on the same article?

After all, simply counting "contributing to Wikipedia" seems, to me, like claiming an Erdős number of 1 simply from having one of your papers published in a journal to which Erdős ever contributed, at any point -- not necessarily even in the same issue of the journal.

Me - El Khechen - Chvátal - Erdős: Erdős number of 3.

I have no idea what my Bacon number is. When rottenfruit mentioned it, I thought Francis Bacon first.

The thing that irritates me most about that Wikipedia discussion is that the completely bogus statement "around 30% of our mathematicians biographies are for pre-20th century mathematicians who cannot have an Erdős number" went unchallenged. I now feel compelled to research Leonhard Euler's Erdős number, out of principle. No, make that Francis Bacon's. (I suppose they might have been making the point that academic collaboration didn't exist in the same form prior to the 20th century. Nah, they were just being dumb.)

As I recall, one of the staff of the computing labs at Oxford (I think it might have been Bill Roscoe) had an Erdős number of 2, and by extension a significant chunk of the department were ranked 3. I'm struggling to think of any document I worked on there that could remotely be called a collaboration, though. I don't suppose marking counts does it?

It occurred to me to think about whether I've had sex with anyone who has an Erdos number, but I don't think I have, unless (a) someone who'll have an Erdos number when somebody else finally gets around to submitting a paper counts, or (b) I *really* stretch the definition of "sex".

I know someone (though I can't think of who it is at the moment) that claims a Bacon number of 2. So that would make me a 3. I have an unknown Erdős number. :( I claim... infinity! Just because.

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