what is an Erdős number?


After studying Actuarial mathematics for 3 years now you would imagine that by now i have an inkling as to what an erdős number is. But alas my ignorance shall astonish you time and time again so be ready.

Finding out about this was a real treat for me, seeing as i hope to get into the paper-writing academic sphere soon enough.Thing is i am not at all an ordinary mathematician as you would have it.I don’t have the brightest brain,won all the mathematical awards that have come my way and neither do i fantasize about numbers all 24 hours of the day, maybe a solid 8.

In fact happenstance  landed me at the door of mathematics as you may have already gathered i am most certainly more obsessed with poetry than i am with numbers.But then again mathematics has offered me a more profound view of everything i thought i knew and turned it on its head,revealed truths and unmasked dogmas that i hadn’t imagined before.But if anything, I have found in this craft it is certainly better to practice it with colleagues if only to propel you further when the fuel of perseverance runs out or to contain and share the enthusiasm on the discovery of yet another solution.

So imagine my utter elation when i heard of this Erdős number that is a metric for that very part of mathematics i love the most, collaboration.It started with renown 20th century Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős who wrote an impressive number of mathematical papers and worked on an outstanding number of problems with his peers throughout his mathematical career.

Since he co-authored so many of his works(it is estimated that he had circa 511 collaborators throughout his mathematical career.)The Erdős number was created mainly as  tribute to the fallen giant measuring the collaborative distance between anyone and him.

As he has the Erdős number 0,all his direct collaborators have the number 1, and all the direct collaborators’ collaborators have the number 2, and so on and so on.What was just a fun metric measure of how many mathematicians a mathematician has encountered professionally has now transformed the field of all sciences entirely.

The progress of mathematical thought can now be easily documented, tracking down the path of research even that without the confines of mathematics because a considerable number of scholars in other fields too have Erdős numbers.This spirit of collaboration has enticed me even more to my prior mission of writing academically because what two minds can uncover in a second one may never be able to even fathom in an eternity .After all with research its all about more knowledge not self-aggrandizement.

(Thank you abyssbrain for the latter’s recommendation,what a great read.)


2 thoughts on “what is an Erdős number?

  1. Paul Erdos is undoubtedly one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century and certainly one of the most eccentric mathematicians of all time. His prolificness is also very impressive.

    If you can find it, the book The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos by Paul Hoffmann contains many great and informative accounts on the life of Erdos.

    Liked by 1 person

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