Archive for July, 2011

New Achievement- Erdős Number

Posted: July 5, 2011 by Shishir Gupta in Awards, Just For Fun

Erdős number is something that as a high school student I have always aspired to have. In fact why me, it is something any science student must have dreamt of, especially a mathematics or a physics student, since these are the two fields one is likely to get a lower Erdős number (lower the better). To be honest, I never believed I could ever achieve an Erdős number of 1 or 2. In fact during my engineering days, I had managed to achieve an Erdős number of 5 which is very good and an achievement in every respect. But a few months back when one of my recent papers got selected to be published, I realized that when it does get officially published I will attain an Erdős number of 2. This will happen since for this paper I got an opportunity to work with Endre Szemerédi sir who has an Erdős number 1, thus automatically giving me a number 2.

Once this paper gets published, and once I officially attain my Erdős number of 2, every co-author of mine will attain the Erdős number of 3.

Let me explain a little about what is Erdős number.  According to Wikipedia –

“The Erdős number describes the “collaborative distance” between a person and mathematician Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers. Paul Erdős was an influential and itinerant mathematician, who spent a large portion of his later life living out of a suitcase and writing papers with those of his colleagues willing to give him room and board. He published more papers during his life (at least 1525) than any other mathematician in history.

To be assigned an Erdős number, an author must co-write a research paper with an author with a finite Erdős number. Paul Erdős has an Erdős number of zero. Anybody else’s Erdős number is k + 1 where k is the lowest Erdős number of any coauthor. Erdős wrote around 1,500 mathematical articles in his lifetime, mostly co-written. He had 511 direct collaborators; these are the people with Erdős number 1. The people who have collaborated with them (but not with Erdős himself) have an Erdős number of 2 (8,162 people as of 2007), those who have collaborated with people who have an Erdős number of 2 (but not with Erdős or anyone with an Erdős number of 1) have an Erdős number of 3, and so forth. A person with no such co-authorship chain connecting to Erdős has an Erdős number of infinity (or an undefined one).”

Now with Paul Erdős not alive, my Erdős number cannot improve further. So with this being the highest I can ever achieve, and the fact that I have achieved it, the feeling is nothing less than great.  Also, I am very happy since one of my role models Richard Feynman has an Erdős number of 3, and I have surpassed that.

I do not know how much this achievement will help me in my current work scenario, but maybe it can act as a catalyst to help me get my life back on the path that I have always dreamt of.