April 08, 2007

What's Your Erdős Number?

Musing on a Sunday morning when I don't feel quite ready to buckle down to work yet:

If we relax the requirement that you get to have an Erdős number only if you've published a mathematical paper, I bet there are quite a few linguists out there with impressively low Erdős numbers. My own is low, but it's not impressive, because it's mainly the result of pure dumb luck -- I have it because I married a logician with a low Erdős number, and our interests overlap enough that we once did a bit of joint research. Rich's Erdős number is 3, through two short chains of co-authors (one via Dana Scott and Alfred Tarski, the other via Nuel Belnap and an Erdős co-author whose name I forget at the moment); so mine is 4. A tenuous 4, admittedly, because although we presented our research at a conference (which counts as publication under some definitions of "publication", though it wouldn't appear on a CV under Publications), we never got around to publishing it formally, in print. So what other linguists have low Erdős numbers, tenuous or otherwise?

A low Erdős number ought to be a great pick-up line in a bar full of mathematicians, given appropriate age and circumstances. Might not work so well in a bar full of linguists.

Posted by Sally Thomason at April 8, 2007 08:53 AM