MathSciNet Collaboration Distance Help Topics
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).