There is a paper (see here for an article about the paper, the link to the paper itself is later) that claims to PROVE that, on average, the distance (for some definition of distance) between any two people is 6.

1) We've blogged about this kind of thing:

2) The paper's link is here and in case link rot sets in, my copy of it is here.

3) The paper has 14 authors. AH- so that's why we are, on the average, 6 degrees apart- because papers have so many authors. (Actually papers in Biology have LOTS more than 14.)

4) The paper defines a mathematical model for social networks and analyzes a persons cost and benefit of forming a connection.

5) Is the mathematical model realistic? I think so. But its always tricky since empirical evidence already gave the answer of *six. *The true test of a mathematical model is to predict something we didn't already know.

6) One thing about applying this to the real world: What is a connection? Friendship? (also hard to define), handshakes? I like the *will respond to my emails *metric, though that may leave out half of my colleagues and even some of my friends.

(How come people do not respond to important emails? Perhaps a topic for a later blog.)

7) My Jeopardy number is 1 in two different ways:

a) My co-author Erik Demaine was mentioned in a question on Jeopardy, see here and look at the 800 dollar question in Double Jeopardy, Category Boy Genius.

b) My cousin Adam Winkler's book, Gunfight, was mentioned in a question Jeopardy, see here. It was a 400 dollar question.

In both cases the question was easy, hence my inside information did not give me an advantage.

(Note: they were actually mentioned in an answer on Jeop since Jeop has that weird format where they give the answer and you need to find the question. For example:

Game show that has a format that Bill Gasarch thinks is stupid

What is Jeopardy?

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