Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Winnie the Mathematician and a Few Comments on Comments

Today's Science Times has an article on Danica McKellar an mathematically-talented actress, best known for her role as Winnie on Wonder Years. She has a Bacon number of two and an Erdös number of four, the first completely legit example I know of someone with finite Bacon and Erdös numbers.

An administrative issue on comments. Because I apparently violated a security policy on our department computers, you can no longer post new comments on the old commenting system, that is on posts before May 9, 2004 as well as the General Comments link. You still can read the old comments and post comments on posts since May 9, 2004.

And while I'm on the topic of comments and because some have asked, I have never and never will post a comment anonymously on this weblog. I encourage everyone to sign their comments (what do you have to hide) or at least use an alias so we can match comments to the same writer. Still I'd rather you leave comments anonymously than not leave them at all.

I've also been asked about deleting comments. I reserve the right to delete any comment but so far have done so only in the following cases:

  1. Duplicate comments.
  2. Comment spam.
  3. Once because the author of the comment requested it to be deleted.
  4. Once because the comment was too long. The comment started with something like "I wrote a book on the topic and here is the first chapter…" If you have something long to say put it somewhere else on the web and put a link in the comments.


  1. There is a theory student (David Ratajczak) at Berkeley with Bacon number 2 and Erdos number 3. (And I think this is the present Bacon-Erdos record, 2+3=5.)

    Erdos 3 is through Moni Naor

    Bacon 2 is through Tim Robbins (Cradle will Rock, 1999) and Tim Robbins was in Mystic River with Kevin Bacon (2003).

    This can be verified at http://www.cs.virginia.edu/oracle/.

    [As for aliases: It only takes about three distinct posts on this blog to triangulate the identity of someone given a consistent alias. That's why it's bad to use an alias if you want to remain anonymous.]

  2. For a comment about comments to commenters: Please! Don't feed the trolls!

    There are very few trolls around on this blog, but if you do find someone saying something obnoxious, only to get a reaction from others, don't give them the satisfaction of even a notice. The game theory here is that they'll get bored and then go away.


    In other news, I associate produced an independent film, which included meeting and talking with several SAG actors who all have a Bacon number of 2 from real movies. Some say that doesn't quite count for giving me a Bacon number; it just depends on if "was involved in a movie with" counts.

    My Erdos number is 3.

  3. To correct my first post, I think Daniel Kleitman (MIT) has Erdos number 1 and Bacon number 2. If his walk-by in Good Will Hunting counts, that is. (He was seen through a window if I recall. Also, he has a "thanks" credit on IMDB.)

    Bacon number 2 is through Minnie Driver who was in Sleepers (1996) with Kevin Bacon.

  4. This is interesting. This show was a good part of my youth/childhood.

    Looking at imdb.net for whatever Winnie Cooper has been up to, I found that she appeared in the movie ``Raising Genius'', which seems interesting:


    To quote IMDB: "The film is about a boy (Justin Long) who locks himself in the bathroom to work out math equations on the shower wall."

    On a side note, the post raises the following two questions: what is the Erdos number of Wayne Arnold (Jason Hervey) and of Paul Pfeiffer (Josh Saviano).

  5. Here is a very off-topic comment: Would anyone be able to make an RSS feed for the 2005 ECCC reports? I would like to have one, but I don't know how to do it.


    -- Guy Who Doesn't Know Much About RSS

  6. From http://www.cs.virginia.edu/oracle/:

    Paul Erdos was in N Is a Number (1993) with Gene (I) Patterson

    Gene (I) Patterson was in Box of Moon Light (1996) with Dermot Mulroney

    Dermot Mulroney was in Bright Angel (1991) with Benjamin (I) Bratt

    Benjamin (I) Bratt was in Woodsman, The (2004) with Kevin Bacon

  7. From an interview in Stuff magazine...

    After the show, you attended UCLA, became a genius and published a paper on Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on $\mathbb Z^2$. I really enjoyed the part on infinite occupied clusters.

    It�s really complicated and not that interesting to most people.

    Do all the mathematicians at UCLA look like this?

  8. By the way Lance, McKellar's co-author on that paper, Brandy Winn, just graduated from the math department.


  9. The math department at the University at Chicago, I mean.


  10. David Ratajczak is two people. The imdb entry incorrectly merges the musician with the former Berkeley student who had a speaking role in Pet Cemetary II. His Bacon number should be recalculated based on his Pet Cemetary II connections alone. For example, Anthony Edwards has a BN of 2, therefore David Ratajczak has at least a BN of 3.