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Jerrold W. Grossman Oakland University Rochester, MI 48309-4401 e-mail: grossman@oakland.edu Patrick D. F. Ion Mathematical Reviews Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8604 e-mail: ion@math.ams.org

The following deﬁnitions are probably well-known among many research mathematicians. The collaboration graph C has as vertices all researchers (mathematicians, in particular), with an edge joining u and v if u and v have published a joint research paper. Although there are diﬀerent possibilities for handling papers with more than two authors (the best approach probably being to use hypergraphs), we will simply put a single edge between every pair of authors of a multi-author paper. (A more detailed treatment would also use parallel edges to represent repeated collaboration.) A distinguished vertex p of C is the outstanding, proliﬁc, and venerable Paul Erd˝ os. The distance from a vertex u to p is known as u’s Erd˝ os number . Thus, for example, Paul Erd˝ os’s co-authors have Erd˝ os number 1. Those people with ﬁnite Erd˝ os number constitute the Erd˝ os component of C . This note reports on an on-going project in which a portion of this graph—in particular, a list of all people with small Erd˝ os numbers—is made available in electronic form. We discuss the diﬃculties of obtaining sound data, state a few interesting properties of this portion of the graph, issue a plea to authors, and list some open questions. The most recent and extensive study of C to date was done by Ron Graham [3], but it does not aim to be complete. We should also point out that portions of our data can provide fairly large, interesting “real-life” graphs on which to test graph algorithms, in the spirit of [1]. Since the data change over time, both because of additional collaborations and because of corrections to inaccurate information, we intend to update the lists on a regular basis and label each version. It is intended that these lists will be available electronically via anonymous FTP and possibly on the World Wide Web; interested readers should contact the ﬁrst-named author for details. The primary source of information for this project is various data bases of publications in the mathematical sciences, notably those maintained by the American Mathematical Society’s Mathematical Reviews (MR ). MR has published short reviews of essentially all mathematical research books and articles since 1940 (including many works in statistics and computer science). Only a few thousand items were reviewed per year ﬁfty years ago, whereas now the rate is around 50,000. More interesting than sheer volume is the proportion of items that are the result of collaboration. Figure 1 shows the fraction of all authored items in MR with one, two, or more than two authors, as a function of time. Notice that while over 90% of all papers ﬁfty years ago were the work of just one mathematician, today scarcely more than half of them are solo works. In the same period, the fraction of two-author papers has risen from under 10% to about one third. Also, in 1940 there were virtually no papers with three authors, let alone four or more; now about 10% of all papers in the mathematical sciences have three or more authors, including about 2% with four or more.

) In compiling data such as ours. As a corollary. one is a geometer from Iowa with over 90 articles in the past dozen years. the other a statistician from North Carolina with over 30 articles in the same time period. including 18 with more than 500. Peter L. as well as omissions and other errors. The percentages of papers in MR with one. electronic communication.00% 80. One can speculate on the reasons for this trend. with an average of about 3. Erd¨ os is usually not confused with p because he uses his full ﬁrst name and/or his middle initial.00% 30. For example. we . such as increases in mathematics department size. The data that we have compiled as of this conference are as follows. one must face the serious problem of identifying authors on the basis of name strings appearing on papers. however: every author should pick as complete an author name as possible for his or her publications and use it on every item. For example. Erd˝ os”) and a Hungarian physicist. including “P. and we would be most happy to have all of them brought to our attention.00% 70.00% 10. We suspect that the distribution of number of authors is also not constant within the mathematical science. (Of course. broad collaboration is much more common in the laboratory sciences. two. The Institute for Scientiﬁc Information found 407 papers published in 1994 with more than 50 authors.5 authors per paper [2]. the growth and specialization of the ﬁeld. or more authors. We issue a much more substantial plea. the papers in this conference proceedings (dealing with discrete mathematics) will likely show a larger number of authors than the current averages across all of mathematics. As another example.00% 2 authors >=3 authors 40. there are two distinct persons named Norman Lloyd Johnson.00% 1940 1942 1944 1946 1947 1950 1952 1954 1956 1958 1960 1962 1963 1965 1967 1969 1971 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 Figure 1.00% 1 author 50.00% 90. the record seems to be 972.00% 60. from subﬁeld to subﬁeld. references to other people and their work should use this preferred and complete name string.100. proliferation of scholarly meetings.00% 20. and of course the “publish or perish” pressure on faculty. each publishing under the same four name strings. MR knows of two persons publishing under the name “Paul Erd¨ os”—the vertex p mentioned above (who uses a wide variety of name strings. First. Fortunately. It is inevitable that the lists we have compiled contain mistakes of identity.00% 0.

for each of these people with Erd˝ os number 1. and there are four vertices with degrees of 30 or higher. We found that E1 has 451 vertices and 1145 edges.1).e.e. their mean number of Erd˝ os number 1 co-authors is 1. and E1 has four components with two vertices each. Only 41 of these 451 people have collaborated with no persons having Erd˝ os number 1 (i. Second.. with Erd˝ os number at most 9. including the date of their ﬁrst joint work (the ﬁrst being a 1934 paper by Erd˝ os and George Szekeres. On properties of a well-known graph or what is your Ramsey number?. and fairly small. we have a list of their co-authors. as are. one can conjecture that most physicists are also in the Erd˝ os component. Three quarters of the people with Erd˝ os number 2 have only one co-author with Erd˝ os number 1 (i.5 (standard deviation 1. This list includes other people with Erd˝ os number 1 as well as the approximately 4300 people with Erd˝ os number 2. In addition. Furthermore. They have an average of 19 other collaborators (standard deviation 21). with no hope that either will ever be answered satisfactorily: What is the diameter of the Erd˝ os component. there are seven maximal 6-cliques and 61 maximal 5-cliques. Too many co-authors?. and the most recent published in 1994). we veriﬁed that all the Fields and Nevanlinna prize winners during the past three cycles (1986–1994) are indeed in the Erd˝ os component. and only seven of them collaborated with no one except Erd˝ os. Erd˝ os number. 1977) 166–172 . Chronicle of Higher Education (April 28. The largest clique in E1 has seven vertices. For supporting evidence. but it should be noted that six of these people and Erd˝ os have a joint seven-author paper. The average vertex degree in E1 is 5 (standard deviation 6). most scientists in general. we still ﬁnd a lot of joint work. We close with two open questions about C . The remaining 402 vertices in E1 induce a connected subgraph. 29 vertices in E1 are involved in cliques of order 5 or larger. each such person has a unique path to p of length 2). Since this group includes people working in theoretical physics.. and the count ranges as high as 13. 1993) [2] Kim A. Topics in Graph Theory (New York. there are 41 isolated vertices in E1 ). Folklore has it that most active researchers have a ﬁnite. especially among themselves. Let E1 be the subgraph of the collaboration graph (as of January 1995) induced by people with Erd˝ os number 1. 1995) A35–A36 [3] Tom Odda. restricted to mathematicians. these collaborators tended to collaborate a lot. McDonald. In all. Four of them have over 100 co-authors. and what is the order of the second largest component? References [1] Donald Knuth. that such musings suggest. The Stanford GraphBase (Addison-Wesley. we found (by computer) that the diameter of E1 is 11 and its radius is 6. The large number of applications of graph theory and statistics to the social sciences might also lead one to suspect that many researchers in other academic areas are included as well. However. therefore. Finally.have a list of the approximately 450 co-authors of Paul Erd˝ os. If we restrict our attention just to E1 .

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