Paul Erdös (1913-1996) is one of the most prolific mathmeticians. He wrote over 1500 papers in his lifetime and collaborated with over 500 people. As a tribute, his friends created the Erdös number, which is a tongue in cheek way of asking how well you are associated with the top mathematicians.

Erdös himself has an Erdös number of 0. A co-author of Erdös has an Erdös number of 1, if you have written a paper with one of those co-authors you have an Erdös number of 2, and so on.

I found out recently that my Erdös is 3. That’s not too bad. I can never get an Erdös number of 1, but perhaps (one day) I might write a paper with somebody who has an Erdös of 1, giving me anErdös number of 2.

If you are interested in finding out what your Erdös number is, I found two very good web sites:

- The Erdös Number Project at http://www.oakland.edu/enp/
- The Microsoft Academic Search at http://academic.research.microsoft.com/VisualExplorer#2019273&1112639

If you are interested in reading more about this fascinating man, and his life, I would highly recommend The Man Who Loved Only Numbers.

Header Image: Erdös Number (downloaded from Google 26 Nov 2013, labelled as free to reuse): URL https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Erdosnumber.png

This post was originally published at the University of Nottingham.