Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Review of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," by Craig Fass, Brian Turtle & Mike Ginelli

 Review of

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, by Craig Fass, Brian Turtle & Mike Ginelli ISBN 0452278449

Five out of five stars

A connected graph with many other applications

 The Kevin Bacon project is a game for movie buffs, where the goal is to trace a “made-a-movie with” graph with connections between an actor or actress and the actor Kevin Bacon. For example, Marlon Brando was in “The Godfather” with Al Pacino, who was in “Sea of Love” with Ellen Barkin who was in “Diner” with Kevin Bacon. In most cases there is more than one way to connect an actor in this way to Kevin Bacon.

 As a math professional, I understand that all that is needed to make such connections is to have a base person that made many movies, which Bacon has done. In general, all that it needed to make such connections between any two people for any reason is to have at least one of them have many connections with most intermediates having a significant number.

 This project has created a lot of fun for movie buffs and has also spawned some copycat connections. For example, I have seen a project based on baseball players that have been on a team with someone that was on a team with Babe Ruth. There is also the Erdos project where a number is assigned to mathematicians based on the papers that have been coauthored by mathematicians that can be traced back to the legendary and prolific Paul Erdos.

 This was a fun book to read, for it has spawned more than what the creators of the original Kevin Bacon project envisioned.

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