MathSciNet Collaboration Distance Help Topics

Collaboration Distance

Enter the two authors

Erdös Numbers

An interest in the "distance" between people has
been popularized in both the mathematical community (Erdös
numbers) and the general public (*Six Degrees of Separation*). In
mathematical terms, this can be thought of in terms of the *collaboration
graph*: the graph with authors of mathematical papers as vertices and edges
connecting authors who have been co-authors on at least one paper. The MathSciNet
database provides an example of a relatively large collaboration graph. The
distance between two authors is defined to be the length of the minimal path
(if a path exists) between the two authors in the collaboration graph.

A search returns one of the minimal paths from the first author to the second author. It displays each edge in the path: each co-authored paper. For each edge is is possible to find all the papers authored by each author, as well as all the papers co-authored by the two authors.

There is an input box for each of the two authors for which the distance is desired. The distance between two authors is independent of the order in which they are considered. Author names are entered just as in the Author Search. If there is more than one matching author, in either case, a pull down menu of choices is offered.

A special case of Collaboration Distance is the so-called *Erdös
Number*, the collaboration distance from a given author to Paul
Erdös. The lower author box provides a *Use Erdös *button,
to fill the box in with the Paul Erdös that people associate with
this number (there is more than one Paul Erdös in the MathSciNet database).