New PickUp Line: What's Your Erdö s Number?
Every man has his price, in this case especially after he has assumed
room temperature. Paul Erdö s, a Hungarian mathematician who left this
Earth in 1996, was a prodigy in his day. A notable eccentric, he usually
had no permanent address and worked with other mathematicians all over
the world to author or coauthor more than 500 scholarly papers. To
have one's name associated with Erdö s on a publication was, and still
is, a coveted status symbol in the world of number crunchers. Similar
to the six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon theorem, aspiring
mathematicians strive for an "Erdö s Number," which is the separation
from actually having coauthored a paper with Erdö s himself: an Erdos
Number of 1. Coauthoring a paper with someone who coauthored a paper
with Erdö s earns one an Erdö s Number of 2, and so on. So valuable
is the ranking that some highErdö sNumber authors are auctioning off
their coauthorship for a stiff price, just to help raise another mathematician's
Erdö s Number. Seems Capitalism has invaded the halls of Academe.
