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Some Famous People with Finite Erdös Numbers

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The tables below shows upper bounds on the Erdös numbers of some famous scientists and mathematicians, including many Nobel laureates. Further details, including the paths that establish some of these numbers and many other people, can be found in Famous Trail to Paul Erdös by Rodrigo De Castro and Jerrold W. Grossman, available here in preprint form — in LATeX (118K), postscript (419K, 35 pages), and pdf (453K, 35 pages). It appears (somewhat abbreviated) in The Mathematical Intelligencer: vol. 21, no. 3 (Summer 1999), 51–63, and (in Spanish and updated) in the journal of the Colombian Academy of Sciences (Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales, vol. 23, no. 89 (December, 1999), 563–582). Some of the data shown here, in particular the entries for the A. M. Turing Award, is due to Chris Fields.

In addition, we have listed on a separate page the collaboration paths from Erdös to most of the winners of the Fields Medal, the Nevanlinna Prize, the Abel Prize, the Wolf Prize in Mathematics, and the Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, as well as a few others.

Perhaps the most famous contemporary mathematician, Andrew Wiles, was too old to receive a Fields Medal (but was given a special tribute at the 1998 International Congress of Mathematicians). He has an Erdös number of at most 3, via Erdös to ANDREW ODLYZKO to Chris M. Skinner. A recently famous mathematician, Yitang Zhang, who proved the bounded-gaps-between-primes conjecture, has no jointly authored papers listed in Mathematical Reviews.

And surely the most famous contemporary "computer personality" with a small Erdös number is William H. (Bill) Gates, who published with Christos H. Papadimitriou in 1979, who published with Xiao Tie Deng, who published with Erdös coauthor PAVOL HELL, giving Gates Erdös number at most 4.

A prolific biologist, Eugene V. Koonin, at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, has an Erdös number of 2, through Laszlo A. Szekely. This gives many biologists small finite Erdös numbers, as well. (Another link to the biological sciences community is geneticist Eric Lander, who has Erdös number 2, via Dan Kleitman.) Indeed, it is probably possible to connect almost everyone who has published in the biological sciences to Erdös. With a couple of hours work on the Web, Grossman was able to establish an upper bound of 9 for the Erdös number of his brother, a practicing physician, who was a coauthor on a biology paper resulting from a summer internship. As Margaret Wilson at the University of California points out, the same is probably true for the fields of linguistics (via Noam Chomsky) and psychology (via Jean Piaget).

Here is a message from another biologist, Bruce Kristal, who has Erdös number 2 and lots of coauthors, which may provide useful hints for other searchers in this area: “I recently published with D Frank Hsu (Erdös number 1), and I am writing to briefly point out some potential implications of this that Frank and I found very interesting. Specifically, I am a biologist who works across several areas. Because of this, I have published with, among others, major figures in research on AIDS, aging, neurologic injury and neurodegeneration, and nutritional epidemiology. I believe that one of the neuroscientists I have published with, M. F. Beal, is among the most highly cited in this area. In the last area, nutritional epidemiology, I am on one (position) paper with many of the world leaders, including Walter Willett. Walt has over 1000 publications and was recently named as the most highly cited biomedical researcher in the last decade. Likewise, Frank is a computer scientist with ties in both mathematics and information retrieval as well as some biology citations. I mention these because Frank and I have discussed, among other issues, whether I may serve as a ‘weak link’ of sufficient breadth to impact the overall network structure both within biology and between biology and these other areas of math and computer science. Koonin is clearly more prolific than I am, but our fields may be sufficiently different to complement.” Interested people can contact him directly.

Chris Fields has an interesting paper in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics discussing collaboration in the Human Genome Project, which gives small Erdös numbers to many biologists. For pre-prints of other papers describing co-authorship paths from Nobel laureates to Erdős, see Fields’ Erdős number page. Dr. Fields provided many entries for Nobel laureates listed on this page.

For other links in the neuroscience area (and clinical medicine), see Jonathan Victor’s Erdös number page. For a nice discussion of Erdös numbers in physics, see Barbecue Joe Marasco’s Erdös number page.

A person on the Erdös2 list, Kenneth Hodges, turned from mathematics to a totally different field. He is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma and has at least two English literature collaborators, whose Erdös numbers are therefore 3.

Felipe Voloch found what seems to be the oldest mathematicican known to have a finite Erdös number, Richard Dedekind (1831-1916). His number is at most 7, via this path: H. Weber – W. Jacobsthal – R. Fuchs – L.Hopf – A. Einstein – E. Straus – P. Erdös. Some of these collaborations might not meet the usual standard for mathematical research, however (education-oriented works or handbooks). On the other hand, there is a clear path of length 4 to David Hilbert (1862-1943), via R. Courant – K. Friedrichs – H. N. Shapiro – P. Erdös; and a path of length 3 to Georg Frobenius (1849-1917), via I. Schur – G. Szegö – P. Erdös.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the dozens of other people, too numerous to mention by name, who have written in with suggestions, additions, and corrections to these lists. We would appreciate further help from anybody with relevant information.


Nobel Prize winners

NAME                               YEAR     SUBJECT        ERDÖS NUMBER

Henri Becquerel                    1903     Physics             9
Pierre Curie                       1903     Physics             8
Marie Curie                        1903     Physics             7
Heike Kamerlingh Onnes             1913     Physics             4
Max von Laue                       1914     Physics             4
William Henry Bragg                1915     Physics             7

William Lawrence Bragg             1915     Physics             6

Albert Einstein                    1921     Physics             2
Niels Bohr                         1922     Physics             5
Louis de Broglie                   1929     Physics             5
Werner Heisenberg                  1932     Physics             4
Paul A. Dirac                      1933     Physics             4
Erwin Schrödinger                  1933     Physics             4
James Chadwick                     1935     Physics             5
Enrico Fermi                       1938     Physics             3
Ernest O. Lawrence                 1939     Physics             6
Otto Stern                         1943     Physics             3
Isidor I. Rabi                     1944     Physics             4
Wolfgang Pauli                     1945     Physics             3
Sir John Douglas Cockcroft         1951     Physics             6
Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton        1951     Physics             7
Felix Bloch                        1952     Physics             5
Edward Mills Purcell               1952     Physics             4
Frits Zernike                      1953     Physics             4
Max Born                           1954     Physics             3
Walltlher Bothe                    1954     Physics             8
Willis Eugene Lamb, Jr.            1955     Physics             3
Polykarp Kusch                     1955     Physics             5

John Bardeen                       1956     Physics             5
Walter Houser Brattain             1956     Physics             6
William B. Shockley                1956     Physics             5
Chen Ning Yang                     1957     Physics             4
Tsung-dao Lee                      1957     Physics             5
Pavel Alekseyevich Cherenkov       1958     Physics             8
Il'Ja Mikhailovich Frank           1958     Physics             7
Igor Yevgenyevich Tamm             1958     Physics             8
Owen Chamberlain                   1959     Physics             5
Emilio Gino Segre                  1959     Physics             4

Donald A. Glaser                   1960     Physics             5
Robert Hofstadter                  1961     Physics             5
Rudolf Ludwig Mossbauer            1961     Physics             5
Lev Davidovich Landau              1962     Physics             5
Maria Goeppert-Mayer               1963     Physics             4
J. Hans D. Jensen                  1963     Physics             5
Eugene P. Wigner                   1963     Physics             3
Nicolay Gennadiyevich Basov        1964     Physics             7
Aleksandr Mikhailovich Prokharov   1964     Physics             6
Charles H. Townes                  1964     Physics             6
Richard P. Feynman                 1965     Physics             3
Julian S. Schwinger                1965     Physics             4
Sin-Itiro Tomonaga                 1965     Physics             5
Alfred Kastler                     1966     Physics             7

Hans Albrecht Bethe                1967     Physics             3
Luis W. Alvarez                    1968     Physics             5
Murray Gell-Mann                   1969     Physics             3
Hannes Alfven                      1970     Physics             5
Louis Neel                         1970     Physics             5
Dennis Gabor                       1971     Physics             5
John Bardeen                       1972     Physics             5
Leon N. Cooper                     1972     Physics             5
John R. Schrieffer                 1972     Physics             4
Leo Esaki                          1973     Physics             9
Ivar Giaever                       1973     Physics             7
Brian D. Josephson                 1973     Physics             7
Antony Hewish                      1974     Physics             8
Sir Martin Ryle                    1974     Physics             9

Aage Bohr                          1975     Physics             5
Ben Mottelson                      1975     Physics             5
James Rainwater                    1975     Physics             4
Burton Richter                     1976     Physics             6
Samuel C. C. Ting                  1976     Physics             5
Philip W. Anderson                 1977     Physics             5
Sir Nevill F. Mott                 1977     Physics             6
John H. Van Vleck                  1977     Physics             5
Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa          1978     Physics             5
Arno A. Penzias                    1978     Physics             7
Robert W. Wilson                   1978     Physics             7

Sheldon Lee Glashow                1979     Physics             2
Abdus Salam                        1979     Physics             3
Steven Weinberg                    1979     Physics             3
James W. Cronin                    1980     Physics             6
Val L. Fitch                       1980     Physics             5
Nicolaas Bloembergen               1981     Physics             9

Arthur L. Schawlow                 1981     Physics             5
Kai M. Siegbahn                    1981     Physics             8
Kenneth G. Wilson                  1982     Physics             6

Subramanyan Chandrasekhar          1983     Physics             4
William A. Fowler                  1983     Physics             5
Carlo Rubbia                       1984     Physics             5
Simon Van Der Meer                 1984     Physics             6
Klaus von Klitzing                 1985     Physics             5

Gerd Binnig                        1986     Physics             6

Heinrich Rohrer                    1986     Physics             7
Ernst Ruska                        1986     Physics             8
J. Georg Bednorz                   1987     Physics            10
K. Alexander Muller                1987     Physics             9
Leon M. Lederman                   1988     Physics             6
Melvin Schwartz                    1988     Physics             7
Jack Steinberger                   1988     Physics             5
Hans G. Dehmelt                    1989     Physics             7
Wolfgang Paul                      1989     Physics             8

Norman F. Ramsey                   1989     Physics             3
Jerome I. Friedman                 1990     Physics             5
Henry W. Kendall                   1990     Physics             5
Richard E. Taylor                  1990     Physics             5
Pierre-Gilles De Gennes            1991     Physics             6
Georges Charpak                    1992     Physics             3
Russell A. Hulse                   1993     Physics             5
Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr.          1993     Physics             4
Bertram N. Brockhouse              1994     Physics             8
Clifford G. Shull                  1994     Physics             6
Martin L, Perl                     1995     Physics             5
Frederick Reines                   1995     Physics             5
David M. Lee                       1996     Physics             6
Douglas D. Osheroff                1996     Physics             5
Robert C. Richardson               1996     Physics             6
Steven Chu                         1997     Physics             6
Claude Cohen-Tannoudji             1997     Physics             6
William D. Phillips                1997     Physics             5
Robert B. Laughlin                 1998     Physics             5
Horst L. Stormer                   1998     Physics             7
Daniel C. Tsui                     1998     Physics             7

Gerardus ’t Hooft                  1999     Physics             6
Martinus J.G. Veltman              1999     Physics             7
Zhores I. Alferov                  2000     Physics             9
Jack St. Clair Kilby               2000     Physics            12
Herbert Kroemer                    2000     Physics             9
Eric A. Cornell                    2001     Physics             ?
Wolfgang Ketterle                  2001     Physics             ?
Carl E. Wieman                     2001     Physics             6
Raymond Davis, Jr.                 2002     Physics             ?
Riccardo Giacconi                  2002     Physics             ?
Masatoshi Koshiba                  2002     Physics             ?
Alexei A. Abrikosov                2003     Physics             ?
Vitaly L. Ginzburg                 2003     Physics             ?

Anthony J. Leggett                 2003     Physics             4
David J. Gross                     2004     Physics             ?
H. David Politzer                  2004     Physics             ?
Frank Wilczek                      2004     Physics             3
Roy J. Glauber                     2005     Physics             ?
John L. Hall                       2005     Physics             ?

Theodor W. Hansch                  2005     Physics             5
John C. Mather                     2006     Physics             ?
George C. Smoot                    2006     Physics             ?
Albert Fret                        2007     Physics             ?
Peter Grunberg                     2007     Physics             ?
Makoto Kobayashi                   2008     Physics             ?
Toshihide Maskawa                  2008     Physics             ?
Yoichiro Nambu                     2008     Physics             ?
Willard S. Boyle                   2009     Physics             ?
Charles K. Kao                     2009     Physics             ?
George E. Smith                    2009     Physics             ?

Andre K. Geim       
              2010     Physics             6
Konstantin Novoselov               2010     Physics             6
Saul Perlmutter                    2011     Physics             ?
Adam G. Riess                      2011     Physics             ?
Brian P. Schmidt                   2011     Physics             ?

Serge Haroche                      2012     Physics             4

David Wineland                     2012     Physics             3
Francois Englert                   2013     Physics             ?
Peter W. Higgs                     2013     Physics             ?

Paul A. Samuelson                  1970     Economics           5
Kenneth J. Arrow                   1972     Economics           3
Tjalling C. Koopmans               1975     Economics           4
Herbert A. Simon                   1978     Economics           3
Gerard Debreu                      1983     Economics           3
Franco Modigliani                  1985     Economics           4
Robert M. Solow                    1987     Economics           4
Harry M. Markowitz                 1990     Economics           2
Merton H. Miller                   1990     Economics           4
John C. Harsanyi                   1994     Economics           8
John F. Nash                       1994     Economics           4
Reinhard Selten                    1994     Economics           5
James Mirrlees                     1996     Economics           3
Robert C. Merton                   1997     Economics           6
Amartya Sen                        1998     Economics           4
James J. Heckman                   2000     Economics           4
Joseph Stiglitz                    2001     Economics           4
Daniel Kahneman                    2002     Economics           3
Robert J. Aumann                   2005     Economics           3
Edmund S. Phelps                   2006     Economics           4

Alvin E. Roth                      2012     Economics           3

Lloyd S. Shapley                   2012     Economics           3

Ernest Rutherford                  1908     Chemistry           6
Marie Curie                        1911     Chemistry           7
Peter J. Debye                     1936     Chemistry           5
George De Hevesy                   1943     Chemistry           7
Otto Hahn                          1944     Chemistry           7
Otto Diels                         1950     Chemistry           7
Kurt Alder                         1950     Chemistry           6
Edwin M. McMillan                  1951     Chemistry           4
Glenn T. Seaborg                   1951     Chemistry           5
Linus Pauling*                     1954     Chemistry           4
       *Also received the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize
John C. Kendrew                    1962     Chemistry           7
Max F. Perutz                      1962     Chemistry           7
Robert B. Woodward                 1965     Chemistry           7
Lars Onsager                       1968     Chemistry           3
Ilya Prigogine                     1977     Chemistry           6
Walter Gilbert                     1980     Chemistry           4
Kenichi Fukui                      1981     Chemistry           3
Roald Hoffmann                     1981     Chemistry           6
Robert Bruce Merrifield            1984     Chemistry           6
Herbert A. Hauptman                1985     Chemistry           3
Jerome Karle                       1985     Chemistry           4

Dudley R. Herschbach               1986     Chemistry           9

Yuan T. Lee                        1986     Chemistry          10
John C. Polanyi                    1986     Chemistry           7

Jean-Marie Lehn                    1987     Chemistry           5
Hartmut Michel                     1988     Chemistry           4

Johann  Deisenhofer                1988     Chemistry           5

Thomas R. Cech                     1989     Chemistry           4

Rudolph A. Marcus                  1992     Chemistry           4
Kary B. Mullis                     1993     Chemistry           5
George A. Olah                     1994     Chemistry           7

Robert F. Curl, Jr.                1996     Chemistry           5
Harold W. Kroto                    1996     Chemistry           4
Richard E. Smalley                 1996     Chemistry           5
Walter Kohn                        1998     Chemistry           3
John A. Pople                      1998     Chemistry           5
Ahmed H. Zewail                    1999     Chemistry           9
Alan J. Heeger                     2000     Chemistry           5
Alan G. MacDiarmid                 2000     Chemistry           6
Hideki Shirakawa                   2000     Chemistry           6

Martin Chalfie                     2008     Chemistry           4

Joshua Lederberg                   1958     Medicine*           5
Edward Tatum                       1958     Medicine*          11

Georg von Bekesy                   1961     Medicine*          12

Francis H. C. Crick                1962     Medicine*           4
James D. Watson                    1962     Medicine*           4
Sir John Carew Eccles              1963     Medicine*           3
Max Delbrück                       1969     Medicine*           7
David Baltimore                    1975     Medicine*           5
Daniel Carleton Gajdusek           1976     Medicine*           4
Daniel Nathans                     1978     Medicine*           4
Hamilton O. Smith                  1978     Medicine*           3
Sususmu Tonegawa                   1987     Medicine*           5
Harold E. Varmus                   1989     Medicine*           4
Erwin Neher                        1991     Medicine*           7
Bert Sakmann                       1991     Medicine*           6
Edmond H. Fischer                  1992     Medicine*           7
Edwin G. Krebs                     1992     Medicine*           6
Richard J. Roberts                 1993     Medicine*           4
Phillip A. Sharp                   1993     Medicine*           5
Alfred G. Gilman                   1994     Medicine*           4
Martin Rodbell                     1994     Medicine*           7
Edward B. Lewis                    1995     Medicine*           5
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard        1995     Medicine*           4
Eric F. Wieschaus                  1995     Medicine*           5
Peter C. Doherty                   1996     Medicine*           6
Rolf M. Zinkernagel                1996     Medicine*           6
Stanley B. Prusiner                1997     Medicine*           5
Robert F. Furchgott                1998     Medicine*           9
Louis J. Ignarro                   1998     Medicine*          10
Ferid Murad                        1998     Medicine*           8
Günter Blobel                      1999     Medicine*           5
Arvid Carlsson                     2000     Medicine*           9
Paul Greegard                      2000     Medicine*           5

Eric R. Kandel                     2000     Medicine*           4
Leland H. Hartwell                 2001     Medicine*           4
Tim Hunt                           2001     Medicine*           4
Sir Paul M. Nurse                  2001     Medicine*           4
Sydney Brenner                     2002     Medicine*           4
H. Robert Horvitz                  2002     Medicine*           4
John E. Sulston                    2002     Medicine*           3
Paul C. Lauterbur                  2003     Medicine*           8
Sir Peter Mansfield                2003     Medicine*           9
Richard Axel                       2004     Medicine*           3
Linda B. Buck                      2004     Medicine*           4
Barry J. Marshall                  2005     Medicine*           6
J. Robert Warren                   2005     Medicine*           7
Andrew Z. Fire                     2006     Medicine*           4
Craig C. Mello                     2006     Medicine*           5
Mario R. Capecchi                  2007     Medicine*           4
Sir Martin J. Evans                2007     Medicine*           5
Oliver Smithies                    2007     Medicine*           5
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi           2008     Medicine*           6
Luc Montagnier                     2008     Medicine*           5
Harald zur Hausen                  2008     Medicine*           5
Elizabeth H. Blackburn             2009     Medicine*           6
Carol W. Greider                   2009     Medicine*           6
Jack W. Szostak                    2009     Medicine*           5
Robert G. Edwards                  2010     Medicine*           5

*or Physiology

 

Fields Medal winners

NAME                      YEAR     COUNTRY      ERDÖS NUMBER

Lars Ahlfors              1936     Finland           4
Jesse Douglas             1936     USA               4
Laurent Schwartz          1950     France            4
Atle Selberg              1950     Norway            2
Kunihiko Kodaira          1954     Japan             2
Jean-Pierre Serre         1954     France            3
Klaus Roth                1958     Germany           2
Rene Thom                 1958     France            4
Lars Hormander            1962     Sweden            3
John Willard Milnor       1962     USA               3
Michael Atiyah            1966     Great Britain     4
Paul Cohen                1966     USA               5
Alexander Grothendieck    1966     Germany/France    5
Stephen Smale             1966     USA               4
Alan Baker                1970     Great Britain     2
Heisuke Hironaka          1970     Japan             4
Serge Novikov             1970     USSR              3
John G. Thompson          1970     USA               3
Enrico Bombieri           1974     Italy             2
David Mumford             1974     Great Britain     2
Pierre Deligne            1978     Belgium           3
Charles Fefferman         1978     USA               2
Gregory Margulis          1978     USSR              3
Daniel Quillen            1978     USA               3
Alain Connes              1982     France            3
William Thurston          1982     USA               2
Shing-Tung Yau            1982     China             2
Simon Donaldson           1986     Great Britain     4
Gerd Faltings             1986     Germany           4
Michael Freedman          1986     USA               3
Valdimir Drinfeld         1990     USSR              4
Vaughan Jones             1990     New Zealand       4
Shigemufi Mori            1990     Japan             3
Edward Witten             1990     USA               3
Pierre-Louis Lions        1994     France            4
Jean Christophe Yoccoz    1994     France            3
Jean Bourgain             1994     Belgium           2
Efim Zelmanov             1994     Russia            3
Richard  Borcherds        1998     S Afr/Gt Brtn     2
William T. Gowers         1998     Great Britain     4
Maxim L. Kontsevich       1998     Russia            4
Curtis McMullen           1998     USA               3
Laurent Lafforgue         2002     France            5
Vladimir A. Voevodsky     2002     Russia/USA        4
Andrei Okounkov           2006     Russia/USA        3
Grigory Perelman(refused) 2006     Russia            4
Terence C. Tao            2006     Australia/USA     2
Wendelin Werner           2006     Germany/France    3
Ngo Bau Chau              2010     Vietnam           4

Elon Lindenstrauss        2010     Israel            3
Stanislav Smirnov         2010     Russia            3

Cedric Villani            2010     France            3

Artur Avila               2014     Brazil/France     3

Manjul Bhargava           2014     Canada/USA        2

Martin Hairer             2014     Austria/Gt Brtn   4

Maryam Mirzakhani         2014     Iran/USA          3

 

 

Nevanlinna Prize winners

NAME                      YEAR     COUNTRY      ERDÖS NUMBER

Robert Tarjan             1982     USA               2
Leslie Valiant            1986     Hungary/Gt Brtn   3
Alexander Razborov        1990     Russia            2
Avi Wigderson             1994     Israel            2
Peter Shor                1998     USA               2
Madhu Sudan               2002     India/USA         2
Jon Kleinberg             2006     USA               3

Daniel Spielman           2010     USA               3

Subhash Khot              2014     India/USA         3



Abel Prize winners

NAME                      YEAR     COUNTRY      ERDÖS NUMBER

Jean-Pierre Serre         2003     France            3
Michael Atiyah            2004     Great Britain     4
Isadore M. Singer         2004     USA               3
Peter D. Lax              2005     Hungary/USA       3
Lennart Carleson          2006     Sweden            2
Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan  2007     India/USA         2
John G. Thompson          2008     USA               3
Jacques Tits              2008     Belgium           4

Mikhael Gromov            2009     Russia            3

John T. Tate              2010     USA               3

John Willard Milnor       2011     USA               3

Endre Szemeredi           2012     Hungary/USA       1
Pierre Deligne            2013     Belgium           3
Yakov G. Sinai            2014     Russia            4
John F. Nash              2015     USA               4

Louis Nirenberg           2015     Canada/USA        3

  

 

Wolf Prize in Mathematics winners

NAME                      YEAR      COUNTRY      ERDÖS NUMBER

Izrail M. Gelfand         1978      USSR (Russia)       3
Carl L. Siegel            1978      Germany             3
Jean Leray                1979      France              3
André Weil                1979      France              4
Henri Cartan              1980      France              3
Andrei N. Kolmogorov      1980      Russia              4
Lars Ahlfors              1981      Finland             4
Oscar Zariski             1981      USA                 3
Hassler Whitney           1982      USA                 2
Mark G. Krein             1982      Ukranian SSR        4
Shiing Shen Chern         1983-84   China               2
Paul Erdös                1983-84   Hungary             0
Kunihiko Kodaira          1984-85   Japan               2
Hans Lewy                 1984-85   Germany             3
Samuel Eilenberg          1986      Poland              2
Atle Selberg              1986      Norway              2
Kiyoshi Ito               1987      Japan               3
Peter D. Lax              1987      Hungary/USA         3
Friedrich E. Hirzebruch   1988      Germany             3
Lars Hormander            1988      Sweden              3
Alberto Calderón          1989      Argentina           3
John Willard Milnor       1989      USA                 3
Ennio De Giorgi           1990      Italy               3
Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro    1990      Russia              3
Lennart A. Carleson       1992      Sweden              4
John G. Thompson          1992      USA                 3
Mikhael Gromov            1993      Russia              3
Jacques Tits              1993      Belgium             4
Jurgen K. Moser           1994-95   Germany             3
Robert Langlands          1995-96   Canada              2
Andrew Wiles              1995-96   Great Britain       3
Joseph B. Keller          1997      USA                 3
Yakov G. Sinai            1997      Russia              4
Laszlo Lovasz             1999      Hungary             1
Elias M. Stein            1999      Belgium/USA         2
Raoul Bott                2000      Hungary             3
Jean-Pierre Serre         2000      France              3
Vladimir I. Arnold        2001      Russia              5
Saharon Shelah            2001      Israel              1
Mikio Sato                2002/3    Japan               4
John T. Tate              2002/3    USA                 3
Gregory Margulis          2005      USSR                3
Serge Novikov             2005      USSR                3
Hillel Furstenberg        2006/7    Israel              2
Stephen Smale             2006/7    USA                 4
Pierre Deligne            2008      Belgium             3
David Mumford             2008      Great Britain       2
Phillip A. Griffiths      2008      USA                 3

Dennis Sullivan           2010      USA                 3
Shing-Tung Yau            2010      USA                 2

Michael Aschbacher        2012      USA                 2

Luis Caffarelli           2012      USA                 3
Michael Artin             2013      USA                 3
George Daniel Mostow      2013      USA                 3
Peter C. Sarnak           2014      USA                 2
James G. Arthur           2015      Canada              4



Steele Prize (Lifetime Achievement) winners

NAME                      YEAR     COUNTRY      ERDÖS NUMBER

Salomon Bochner           1979     Poland               2
Antoni Zygmund            1979     Poland               2
André Weil                1980     France               4
Gerhard P. Hochschild     1980     Germany              3
Oscar Zariski             1981     Poland               3
Fritz John                1982     Germany              4
Shiing Shen Chern         1983     China                2
Joseph L. Doob            1984     USA                  2
Hassler Whitney           1985     USA                  2
Saunders Mac Lane         1986     USA                  3
Samuel Eilenberg          1987     Poland               2
Deane Montgomery          1988     USA                  3
Irving Kaplansky          1989     Canada               1
Raoul Bott                1990     Hungary              3
Armand Borel              1991     Switzerland          3
Peter D. Lax              1992     Hungary/USA          3
Eugene B. Dynkin          1993     Russia/USA           3
Louis Nirenberg           1994     Canada/USA           3
John T. Tate              1995     USA                  3
Goro Shimura              1996     Japan                2
Ralph S. Phillips         1997     USA                  2
Nathan Jacobson           1998     USA                  3
Richard V. Kadison        1999     USA                  3
Isadore M. Singer         2000     USA                  3
Harry Kesten              2001     Netherlands/USA      2
Elias M. Stein            2002     Belgium/USA          2
Michael Artin             2002     USA                  3
Ronald L. Graham          2003     USA                  1
Victor W. Guillemin       2003     USA                  3
Cathleen S. Morawetz      2004     USA                  3
Izrail M. Gelfand         2005     USSR (Russia)        3
Frederick W. Gehring      2006     USA                  2
Dennis P. Sullivan        2006     USA                  3
Henry P. Mckean, Jr.      2007     USA                  2

George Lusztig            2008     USA                  3

Luis Caffarelli           2009     Argentina            3

William Fulton            2010     USA                  2

John Willard Milnor       2011     USA                  3

Ivo Babuska               2012     Czech Rep./USA       3

Yakov G. Sinai            2013     Russia               4
Phillip A. Griffiths      2014     USA                  3
Victor Kac                2015     USA                  3

 

 

A. M. Turing Award winners

NAME                      YEAR      ERDÖS NUMBER

Alan Perlis               1966           5
M. V. Wilkes              1967           5
R. W. Hamming             1968           7
Marvin Minsky             1969           4
J. H. Wilkinson           1970           3
John McCarthy             1971           4
E. W. Dijkstra            1972           6
C. W. Bachman             1973           8
Donald Knuth              1974           2
Herbert Simon             1975           3
Allen Newell              1975           4
Dana Scott                1976           3
Michael Rabin             1976           2
John Backus               1977           5
R. W. Floyd               1978           3
K. E. Iverson             1979           6
C. A. R. Hoare            1980           4
Edgar F. Todd             1981           7
S. A. Cook                1982           7
Dennis Ritchie            1983           6
K. L. Thompson            1983           7
N. E. Wirth               1984           3
Richard M. Karp           1985           2
John E. Hopcroft          1986           3
Robert E. Tarjan          1986           3
John Cocke                1987           8
Ivan Sutherland           1988           6
W. M. Kahan               1989           4
F. J. Corbato             1990           5
Robin Milner              1991           5
Butler Lampson            1992           6
Juris Hartmanis           1993           4
Richard Stearns           1993           5
Edward Feigenbaum         1994           4
Raj Reddy                 1994           5
Manuel Blum               1995           2
Amir Pnueli               1996           5
D. Engelbart              1997           6
J. N. Gray                1998           5
Frederick Brooks          1999           5
A. C.-C. Yao              2000           4
O.-J. Dahl                2001           5
K. Nygaard                2001           5
A. Shamir                 2002           3
R. L. Rivest              2002           3
L. M. Adleman             2002           2
Alan Kay                  2003           8
R. E. Kahn                2004           3
V. G. Cerf                2004           2
Peter Naur                2005           5
Frances E. Allen          2006           7
J. Sifakis                2007           6
E. A. Emerson             2007           5
E. M. Clarke              2007           6
Barbara Liskov            2008           8
Charles P. Thacker        2009           7
Leslie G. Valiant         2010           3
Judea Pearl               2011           3
Silvio Micali             2012           3
Shafi Goldwasser          2012           2
Leslie Lamport            2013           6

 


Mathematics members of the National Academy of Sciences as of 2001

NAME                     ERDÖS NUMBER

Arnold, Vladimir I.             5
Artin, Michael                  3
Aschbacher, Michael             3
Askey, Richard A.               2
Atiyah, Michael                 4
Bass, Hyman                     3
Bloch, Spencer J.               3
Bombieri, Enrico                2
Borel, Armand                   3
Bott, Raoul                     3
Browder, Felix E.               4
Browder, William                3
Burkholder, Donald L.           3
Caffarelli, Luis A.             3
Calabi, Eugenio                 2
Cartan, Henri P.                3
Cheeger, Jeff                   3
Chern, Shiing-shen              2
Cohen, Paul J.                  5
Connes, Alain                   3
Cox, David R.                   3
Daubechies, Ingrid              3
Diaconis, Persi                 2
Donaldson, Simon K.             4
Doob, Joseph L.                 2
Dynkin, Eugene B.               3
Faddeev, Lyudvig Dmitrievich    7
Federer, Herbert                3
Fefferman, Charles L.           2
Feit, Walter                    3
Freedman, Michael H.            3
Friedman, Avner                 3
Fulton, William                 3
Furstenberg, Hillel H.          2
Gale, David                     2
Gehring, Frederick W.           2
Gelfand, Izrail M.              3
Gleason, Andrew M.              3
Glimm, James                    4
Graham, Ronald L.               1
Grenander, Ulf                  2
Griffiths, Phillip A.           3
Gromov, Mikhael L.              3
Guillemin, Victor               3
Hamilton, Richard S.            3
Hirzebruch, Friedrich           3
Hochschild, Gerhard P.          3
Hochster, Melvin                3
Hormander, Lars                 3
Howe, Roger                     2
Ito, Kiyosi                     3
Jaffe, Arthur M.                5
Jones, Vaughan F.               4
Kadison, Richard V.             3
Kalman, Rudolf E.               4
Kaplansky, Irving               1
Kazhdan, David                  3
Kirby, Robion C.                4
Kohn, Joseph J.                 3
Kostant, Bertram                2
Kruskal, Martin D.              6
Langlands, Robert P.            2
Lang, Serge                     3
Lawson, H. Blaine               3
Lax, Peter D.                   3
Lieb, Elliott H.                2
Lusztig, George                 3
Mac Lane, Saunders              3
Mackey, George W.               2
MacPherson, Robert              3
Margulis, Gregory A.            3
Mather, John N.                 3
Mazur, Barry C.                 2
McDuff, Dusa                    3
McKean, Henry P.                2
Milnor, John Willard            3
Mostow, George Daniel           3
Nash, John F.                   4
Nelson, Edward                  5
Nirenberg, Louis                3
Novikov, Sergei P.              3
Ornstein, Donald S.             2
Palis, Jacob, Jr.               4
Quillen, Daniel G.              3
Rabinowitz, Paul H.             4
Ratner, Marina                  ?
Ribet, Kenneth A.               3
Sato, Mikio                     4
Schoen, Richard M.              3
Serre, Jean-Pierre              3
Serrin, James B.                3
Shafarevich, Igor R.            4
Sinai, Yakov G.                 4
Singer, Isadore M.              3
Smale, Stephen                  4
Solovay, Robert                 2
Spencer, Donald C.              3
Stanley, Richard P.             2
Stein, Charles M.               3
Stein, Elias M.                 2
Steinberg, Robert               3
Sternberg, Shlomo               2
Stroock, Daniel W.              3
Sullivan, Dennis P.             3
Swan, Richard G.                3
Tate, John T.                   3
Taubes, Clifford H.             4
Thompson, John G.               3
Thurston, William P.            2
Tits, Jacques                   4
Uhlenbeck, Karen K.             3
Varadhan, Srinivasa S. R.       2
Whitehead, George W.            4
Wiles, Andrew J.                3
Yau, Shing-Tung                 2
Zelmanov, Efim I.               3

 

Other distinguished scholars and famous people

NAME                        FIELD OF RESEARCH            ERDÖS NUMBER

Walter Alvarez              geology                            5
David Blackwell             mathematics, statistics            2
Malcolm K. Brachman         nuclear physics, oil, bridge       6
Sergey Brin                 Google                             3
Rudolf Carnap               philosophy                         4
Gregory Chaitin             mathematics                        3
Ahmad Chalabi               Iraqi politics                     6
Jule G. Charney             meteorology                        4
Noam Chomsky                linguistics                        4
Francis Collins             biology                            3
Freeman J. Dyson            quantum physics                    2
Paul R. Ehrlich             population studies                 4
Georg Frobenius             mathematics                        3
George Gamow                nuclear physics and cosmology      4
Kurt Gödel                  mathematics                        3
Stephen Hawking             relativity and cosmology           4
John L. Hennessey           comp. sci., Stanford U president   4
David Hilbert               mathematics                        4
Pascual Jordan              quantum physics                    4
Theodore von Kármán         aeronautical engineering           4
Ephraim Katchalski-Katzir   scientist and Israeli president    2
Tom Lehrer                  music performance                  4
Benoit Mandelbrot           mathematics (fractals)             3
Angela Merkel               German politics                    5
Oskar Morgenstern           economics                          4
Rolf Nevanlinna             mathematics                        5
J. Robert Oppenheimer       nuclear physics                    4
Larry Page                  Google                             3

Roger Penrose               relativity and cosmology           3
Jean Piaget                 psychology                         3
Karl Popper                 philosophy                         4
Srinivasa Ramanujan         mathematics                        3
Carl Sagan                  astronomy                          4
Edwin E. Salpeter           astrophysics                       5
Issai Schur                 mathematics                        2
Claude E. Shannon           electrical engineering             3
Waclaw Sierpinski           mathematics                        2
John Maynard Smith          biology                            4

Ronald L. Smith             mathematics and bridge             3
Arnold Sommerfeld           atomic physics                     4
Ivar Stakgold               mathematics and bridge             4
Dirk Struik                 mathematics, history               4
Edward Teller               nuclear physics                    4
John Wilder Tukey           statistics                         2
Alan Turing                 computer science                   5
George Uhlenbeck            atomic physics                     2
J. Craig Venter             biology                            3
John von Neumann            mathematics                        3
John A. Wheeler             nuclear physics                    3
Stephen Wolfram             inventor of Mathematica            2

 

It would have been nice to find an Erdös number for the great twentieth century mathematician, philosopher, and activist Bertrand Russell. However, he collaborated very little, as did his coauthor Alfred North Whitehead. Thus we can’t find a path using research articles. However, Sachi Sri Kantha points out the following, which also would give small Erdös numbers to several other prominent scientists: "Both Russell and Albert Einstein have impeccable credentials as mathematicians; equally impeccable are their credentials as anti-establishment peace activists against militarism and warfare. They authored the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955, which was the last public document authored by Einstein, before his death. Though it is not a mathematical paper. this Russell-Einstein Manifesto is a valid collaboration of two peace activist scientists, given the tenor of McCarthy era. It is also counted as one of Russell’s publication [source: A Bibliography of Bertrand Russell, vol.II, Serial Publications 1890-1990, by K.Blackwell and H.Ruja, Routledge, London, 1994, pp.194-196]. The specific title is TEXTS OF SCIENTISTS’ APPEAL FOR ABOLITION OF WAR, New York Times, 10 July 1955, p.25. This was the original citation, and it had been reproduced umpteen times in other journals, magazines and newspapers. The worth of this Russell-Einstein Manifesto was that according to the citation in the bibliography: ‘The entire Rusell-Einstein manifesto with Russell’s prefatory remarks. The other signatories, besides Einstein, were Max Born, P.W.Bridgman, L.Infeld, F.Joliot-Curie, Linus Pauling, H.J.Muller, C.F.Powell, J.Rotblat and Hideko Yukawa.’ Among these, at the time of its release, all except Einstein’s collaborator Infeld and Rotblat were Nobelists in science. Later in 1995, Rotblat received the Nobel Peace Prize. Thus other Nobelists like Bridgman (physics 1946), Joliot-Curie (chemistry, 1935), H.J.Muller (medicine, 1946), Powell (physics, 1950), Rotblat (peace, 1995) and Yukawa (physics, 1949), all of whom have not been included in your current list of Erdos Number Nobelists, receive an Erdos Number of 3, courtesy of Einstein. Since Russell was also the only mathematician who received the Nobel literature prize, this Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 is also indicative of his eminent stature as a literateur."

Here is another interesting story, suggesting that Peter Lax should have a non-integer Erdös number. It comes from Istvan Hargittai.

"Abel-laureate Peter Lax is listed with Erdös number 3. I would like to suggest to correct this because Peter Lax, in fact, has a unique Erdös number of one and a half! Peter and I recorded three in-depth conversations during the past few years in Budapest and in New York. A composite version, translated into Hungarian, has appeared in Hungarian in November 2007 in the magazine of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, called Magyar Tudomany. The original English-language version of the composite is awaiting publication in The Mathematical Intelligencer. Among many other topics, we talked about Paul Erdös, and Peter’s Erdös number also came up in the conversation. How did Lax figure out that his Erdös number was 1.5? Lax never wrote a paper with Erdös, but Peter’s first paper was on a conjecture of Erdös. That was in 1944. Even before that, a paper in 1943, by Erdös, which appeared in The Annals of Mathematics (volume 44, pages 643-646), had a footnote, which said, ‘This proof is due to Mr. P. Lax. Oral communication.’ This footnote accounts for Lax’s Erdos number of 1.5. (At this time, Peter was 17 years old.)"

Here is a path to the famous mathematician Laplace, found by Leonid Yanushevich:

1. Paul Erdos to Ernst Gabor Straus
Erdös, P.; Straus, E. G. On linear independence of sequences in a Banach space. Pacific J. Math. 3, (1953). 689–694

2. Ernst Gabor Straus to Albert Einstein
Einstein, Albert; Straus, Ernst G. The influence of the expansion of space on the gravitation fields surrounding the individual stars. Rev. Modern Phys. 17, (1945). 120–124

3. Albert Einstein to Paul Ehrenfest
A. Einstein, P. Ehrenfest, Zur Quantentheorie des Strahlungsgleichgewichts Zeitschrift für Physik 19: 301–306 (1923)

4. Paul Ehrenfest to Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
P. Ehrenfest, H. Kamerlingh Onnes, Vereinfachte Ableitung der kombinatorischen Formel, welche der Planckschen Strahlungstheorie zugrunde liegt Annalen der Physik 351: 1021–1024 (1915)

5. Heike Kamerlingh Onnes to Antoine Henri Becquerel
Becquerel, H. & Becquerel, J. & H. Kamerlingh Onnes, On phosphorescence at very low temperature, in: KNAW, Proceedings, 12, 1909-1910, Amsterdam, 1910, pp. 76–88

6. Antoine Henri Becquerel to A. Edmond Becquerel
"Institut de France. Mémoire sur la température de l’air à la surface du sol et de la terre jusqu’à trente-six mètres de profondeur, ainsi que sur la température de deux sols, l’un dénudé, l’autre couvert de gazon, pendant l’année 1882", Paris: impr. de Firmin-Didot, 1883

7. A. Edmond Becquerel to Antoine Cesar Becquerel
Réduction élecfrochimique du cobalt, du nickel, de l’or, de l’argent et du platine; par MM. Becquerel et Ed. Becquerel [Comptes rendus Academie des sciences, vol. 55, p. 18; 1862]

8. Antoine Cesar Becquerel to Jean-Baptiste Biot
Sur la nature de la radiation émanée de l’étincelle électrique, qui excite la phosphorescence à distance; par MM. Biot et Becquerel. [Comptes rendus Academie des sciences, vol. 8, p. 223; 1839]

9. Jean-Baptiste Biot to Francois Arago
Mémoire sur les affinités des corps pour la lumière, et particulièrement sur les forces réfringentes des différens gaz, par MM. Biot et Arago (1806) [ Memoires de l’Institut 7: 301–85]

10. Francois Arago to Gaspard de Prony
Exposé des recherches faites par ordre de l’Académie royale des Sciences, pour déterminer les forces élastiques de la vapeur d’eau à de hautes températures. [Annales de chimie et de physique, vol. 43, p. 78; 1830]

11. Gaspard de Prony to Louis Bernard Guyton de Morveau
Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau and Marie Riche de Prony, “Rapport sur un appareil établi à la Monnaie pour faire consumer la fumée des machines (Institut, 16 janvier 1809),” in Annales de chimie 69 (1809), 189–203

12. Louis Bernard Guyton de Morveau to Jean Darcet
Rapport sur les couleurs pour la porcelaine du citoyen Dihl. Darcet, Guyton et Fourcroy, Annales de chimie, vol. 25 [p.83; 1797]

13. Jean Darcet to Antoine Lavoisier
Franklin, B., Lavoisier, A., et al. (1784), Rapport des commissaires chargés par le Roi de l’examen du magnétisme animal
[Republished later in 2002: Report of the commissioners charged by the King with the examination of animal magnetism, 1784. Benjamin Franklin, Majault, Le Roy, Sallin, Jean-Sylvain Bailly, D’Arcet, de Bory, Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, Antoine Lavoisier. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 11/2002; 50(4):332–63.]

14. Antoine Lavoisier to Pierre-Simon Laplace
"Mémoire sur la chaleur," Mémoires de l’Académie des sciences (1780), pp. 355–408


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