Yet More chutzpah in
assigning Erdös Numbers

In our first web page, it was explained how Erdös Numbers are computed from a chain of joint papers starting at one co-authored by Paul Erdös. To continue:
Those who gain their knowledge of mathematics from that most reliable medium, the film, will learn from Good Will Hunting that publication in MIT TechTalk is the absolute pinnacle of mathematical achievement, if a little lower in stature than the actual award of a Fields Medal. With the publication of the May 17, 1979 issue of MIT Tech Talk featuring Alexander's exploration of fluid mechanics at MIT my son Alexander had it made - at least within mathematics. But it was nice that with assistance from the sub-editor of Tech Talk this issue constitutes a joint publication of Alex with MIT's latest Field Medallist.
Which Movie Star has the lowest Erdös Number?
Pix of actor Matt Damon co-writer and

star of Good Will Hunting Good Will Hunting, was conceived and scripted in part by Matt Damon. The technical consulant for that movie -- Dan Kleitman -- was a mathematician with the notably low Erdös Number of 2 -- so that Matt Damon, emphatically gained the low Erdös Number of 3. Arguably all those listed on the credits for Good Will Hunting also gained a low Erdös Number.
Does Joan Baez have an Erdös Number of 3 ?
Program cover for Joan Baez concert Quote from Email:
Lucy Kaplansky was the opening act at a recent concert given by Joan Baez.
Lucy Kaplansky's father is Izzy Kaplansky.
Izzy Kaplansky is a co-author of Erdos'.
Gerry Myerson (
Link to the Evidence for this claim. YOU be the Judge !

Do any animals have an Erdös Number ? Is it possible ?
A horse ponders its Erdos number Recent work by animal psychologists showing that not only primates but even birds have surprising intellectual capacities, opens the question as to whether non-humans can boast a Erdös Number. The answer is indeed yes; the story is however curious.

Jerry Grossman at Oakland University contributed an article to a Bridge magazine, jointly with Smarty, his wife's horse. As Grossman (Grossman, Jerrold Wayne) has an Erdös Number of 2, the horse achieved an Erdös Number of 3.

In keeping with the hard-edge, yet generous, approach taken on this site, here are the detailed facts re Smarty. A clue/entry in a crossword included in a magazine devoted to Bridge cast aspersion on the Arabian breed. Smarty, as was his style, expressed gross irritation, and was consoled by Jerry Grossman, who ghosted a letter of complaint to the magazine. The published letter only featured Smarty's name, but as this is common practice in "ghosted" books and articles, the joint authorship of this publication is accepted. And how could one dispute with the principal compiler of the official Erdös Number Project ?

Did my Partner Acquire an Erdös Number on marriage ? If Not, How can he/she acquire a finite one?

What if one party to a marriage already has an assigned Erdös Number while the other has no finite Erdös Number. Does a marriage certificate signed by both parties, constitute a publication of those two parties, assigning Erdös Number + 1 to the spouse?

No -- a single copy does NOT constitute a publication. In our opinion only in the case of "serial marriage" -- repeated marriages of the same parties -- would the duplicated marriage certificate constitute a publication for these purposes. Its arguable that in the case of a bigamist, certificates each with different partners names constitute revised editions -- but we won't buy that.

Can Sophie Acquire an Erdös Number ?
Cover of Sophies World, a novel by Jostein Gaarder Can a character in a novel gain an Erdös Number ? Clearly the author of a novel can give one of his characters any such attribute he requires, but an Erdös Number bestowed by an author will NOT be recognised by this Project. The work of the author remains a fiction. We are more flexible than the Erdös Number Project, but not fanciful. In detail, the Erdös Number Project will only recognise an awardee whose act of collaboration involved an act of free will on their part. Few characters in novels possess the philosophical nouce required to escape the author's direction and to act for themselves. But in Sophies World the character Sophie, with devilish cunning, achieved an act of free-will, Sophie escaped from the tyranny of her author, The Major, himself a fictional construct of Jostein Gaarder.

There is a further question: in which world can Sophie -- or any other fictional character -- acquire an Erdös Number. For the answer to this question, we await further. presentations by Jostein Gaarder.

See also the Sophies's World site.

Amazing scupture - the Quintrino of Bathesda Grossman Quintrino Assignment of an Erdös Number
There is a five-fold chain of collaborators linking the author of this site, Harvey A. Cohen, with Paul Erdös,
In detail, the five chains of collaborators linking Cohen with Erdös are:
  • Cohen, H.A. - Bracken, A.J. --Doebner, H.-D.--Schott, R.--Janson, S.--Erdos
  • Cohen, H.A. - Bracken, A.J., --Barut, A.O.--Wilson, Raj--Macintyre, A.J.--Erdos
  • Cohen, H.A. - Bracken, A.J., --Rogers, C.--Swetits, J.J.--Kroo, A.--Erdos
  • Cohen, H.A. - Bracken, A.J., --Vyborny, R--Lee, P. Y.--Chen, C.C.--Erdos
  • Cohen, H.A. - Bracken, A.J., --Hughes, J.W.B.--Moshinsky, M.--Sharma, A.--Erdos
No further proof is required that the topology of this multiple fivefold linkage matches the sculpture Quintrino shown to the left:
But this publication is a joint publication of the webmaster, and of the mathematical sculptor Bathsheba Grossman
QED: By virtue of this joint publication, Bathsheba Grossman has gained an Erdös Number of 6.

Comments, enquiries, and outlandish nominations of awardees should be sent to
Note that successful claims for Erdös Number assignment are invariably outrageous -- Like the claim that the sum of the (Babe) Ruth-Aron Numbers, 714 and 715, is a backwards-forwards-sideways prime:
In detail: 714 + 715 = 1429.
1429, 9241, 1249, 9421, 4129, 4219 are all prime numbers.
As to 1492? That couldn't be more prime in the dictionary sense, despite being an even number, as it was the year that Columbus 'discovered' America.
What's more, 714 x 715 = 2 x 3 x 5 x 7 x 11 x 13 x 17 -- the product of the first seven primes. This must be the clincher !!
So we accept Ivars Peterson's claim that 1429 is a backwards-forwards-sideways prime, as we apply the same principle in assigning Erdös Numbers.

The Basic Rule for Assigning Erdös Numbers Outrageously: If there isn't a chain of formally mathematical papers connecting the assignee with Paul Erdös was enough Chutzbah involved in the claim for it to be taken { uproariously } seriously ???

Click to Return to the Home Page for the Extended Erdös Number
Click for Harvey Cohen's Home Page

Some further elucidation on the concept of chutzpah may be found on the website