Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Four links to Paul Dirac

The other day I was wondering out aloud whether somebody had ever checked the average number of co-authors to the next Nobelprize winner, because sometimes it seems to me like everybody knows everybody in theoretical physics. And it's not even a small community. Well, I don't know if anybody has actually measured the diameter of the physics coauthor network, but I saw this morning that the AMS has a tool to calculate 'collaboration distance' which is pretty much self-explanatory:


So, let's see how far I'm away from Paul Dirac coauthor-wise...


Not so far actually, thanks to Lee. Dirac's paper on the list above is a Nature article from 1952 on the question "Is there an Aether?" What about Albert Einstein then?

And go:


With 5 links to Albert Einstein! That's less than I would have guessed. With 6 links you can probably connect any two authors.

Unfortunately, the AMS database doesn't seem to contain experimentalists. Neither could I find any description of the algorithm used. It runs amazingly fast, and it makes me a little suspicious that in no query I tried did I get two paths with the same length, though that might have been coincidence.

So, have fun playing around.

34 comments:

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Very interesting. I'm at 8 steps from both (and 7 from Schrödinger).

http://twitpic.com/55ew61
http://twitpic.com/55ew41


Best,

Christine

Christine said...

Gee! I'm also at 8 steps from *you*!

Bee said...

Well, you're doing astrophysics, no? I suspect if they had experimentalists in the database the distance would be less.

mgf said...

Check out http://www.petekrawczyk.com/lj_connect/ for a visually-pleasing approach to the same problem in a different domain.

Christine said...

Perhaps, but I'd say that, being a experimentalist or not, one could probably connect to anyone else with 8 links or so, based on my tests. (You supposed 6 links... Maybe... But since I am an obscure person from an obscure country, I believe that 8 links would do.)

[I have papers in astrophysics but a few in others areas as well; these days I'm mostly in condensed matter. My results above connected from an astro paper].

Best,

Christine

Christine said...

Here are some results for me. The best I could get was 6.

6 s chandrasekhar
6 e calabi
6 m gell-mann
7 s hawking
7 e wigner
7 l landau
7 g perelman
7 r feynman
7 j schwinger
7 h bethe
7 d bohm
7 s weinberg
7 g t'hooft

Ok, enough. So I guess a distance of ~7 will reasonably connect anyone.

BTW, there is one result, however, that is better for me than for you. I'm *sorry*, here it goes:

7 l motl

The distance between you and the latter is only 4. =))

Best,
Christine

Cyberax said...

"It runs amazingly fast, and it makes me a little suspicious that in no query I tried did I get two paths with the same length, though that might have been coincidence."

Why should it be slow? Finding the shortest distance on a graph is a simple problem in Computer Science. Every BGP-enabled router on the Internet solves this problem constantly. That's why when you access something over the Internet, packets tend to flow through the shortest possible path.

Here's a nice article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dijkstra%27s_algorithm

Bee said...

Well, I'm not a computer scientist, so you're probably right. Just because something is a simple problem doesn't mean though it has a quick answer. Is the routing really computed from scratch every time or does it just use variations around well-trodden paths?

Plato said...

Depends how algorithm is written?

Rien said...

This tool doesn't contain all theorists either -- my guess is that it's only hep-th.

Uncle Al said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation
Stanley Milgrom therein.

the AMS database doesn't seem to contain experimentalists Contemporary physical theory is elegant. Anybody can see a naked emperor. Why should anybody be regarded for ending that beauty?

[Uncle Al thanks theory for bestowing HyperChem. We will not remember when theory predicted /_\H(formation) within a hartree, and boasted about doing it. OTOH, it did get better - not so string theory and SUSY.]

Arun said...

Bee, how many nodes (different authors) do you think the database contains? 100,000?

Bee said...

Hi Arun,

That's very difficult to say because I don't know what their database is built on. As noted above, it doesn't seem to contain experimentalists, and I suspect it's mostly math-centered. Yet I don't know how international it is, or how far back in time it goes. But I too would have guessed something of the order 100,000. That's the number of different authors. Yet the collaboration distance actually searches for a path on papers, which will be substantially more, maybe a factor 10? Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

In the situation I find myself, no matter which physicist I choose, the distant between me and all is invariant, as being both infinite and undefinable. This had a thought cross my mind, as perhaps a photon has a similar relationship in respect to the other particles; as not being one of them (massless at rest and then having to be forever restless) and thus never able to correlate as to collaborate :-)

”I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

-Groucho Marx

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

I'm about infinite steps from every famous person who ever lived, but as an Engineer, I know that Infinity is just a concept that only works in Mathematics and Physics, so it doesn't bother me.

Hey Bee, good show on your latest paper. Did you discuss it here yet?

Christine said...

It would be so good if being at 8 steps from Einstein would mean being at 8 steps (in whatever units you choose) from Einstein's *mind*, which is not the case, of course. So, really, this distance collaboration thing just means that if each person collaborates at least with someone else, she/he will probably be connected at some distance to some "important" person in the web... So, Phil, Steven, never mind.

Best,

Christine

Zephir said...

You're an aetherist, so to say... well, phenomenologically...

Arun said...

Renzuo Xu to Sabine Hossenfelder is a distance of 9.

A.S. Padmanabhan to Sabine Hossenfelder - "No Path Found". :)

So there are disconnected sets.

Anyway, I think, Bee, doesn't matter if there are a million papers or ten million, what matters is the unique sets of authors, which I imagine may be available pre-digested.

Bee said...

Hi Steven,

No, haven't discussed the paper here, and won't find time for that for some while, sorry. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

I don’t really regret not being able to be correlated in such a consideration as knowing that in a more general sense I'm not that distant from anyone else in the world.

What it does show is perhaps we should be more concerned with what has us connected, rather than what has us as apart. That is we are now beginning to understand things such a entanglement and complexity when taken together has things more likely to being the same as to not.

”What is the meaning of the togetherness of the perceiving mind, in that peculiar modification of perceiving which makes it perceive not a star but a tree, and the tree itself, is a problem for philosophy.”

-Samuel Alexander



Best,

Phil

Christine said...

Hi Phil,

Yes, the 6 degrees separation... In bookstores here one can see some books displayed in the storefront related to this. Looks like people want to learn how to take advantage of that somehow in their social connections. Everything seems to point to the fact that social netwotks are more important to achieve certain aims than other qualities, such as merit or hard work. Maybe it has always been like that, but only exacerbated with the internet.

Best,

Christine

Plato said...

Wallowing in self pretentiousness about the seriousness of the work is only limited by the perspective one labels it?:)

That then becomes your world.

How serious are you?:)

Years spent is only measured by the labels one applies. Of course that is your "point of view.":)

Plato said...

Creating a Science of the Web

The Web is the largest human information construct in history. The Web is transforming society. In order to...understand what the Web is engineer its future ensure its social benefit

...we need a new interdisciplinary field that we call Web Science.

The Web Science Research Initiative brings together academics, scientists, sociologists, entrepreneurs and decision makers from around the world. These people will create the first multidisciplinary research body to examine the World Wide Web and offer the practical solutions needed to help guide its future use and design.


See Also:Web Science

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

If you do a blog on quantum mechanics foundations, perhaps you could include some assessment of the potential impact of the Kocsis et al paper just published in Science [6/3/11 issue].

Trajectories? Pilot waves?

Interesting!

bizdiets! tovarich said...

I'm 5 steps away from Einstein and I'm not even a physicist !

My Erdos number is 4, I'm 4 steps away from Richard Courant, 5 steps away from Scroedinger, 5 away from Bethe, and 5 away from Heisenberg.

And I'm not even famous :-)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Some may find it interesting that when I plug in Bohr, N and Einstein, A I’m greeted with the response “No Path Found”. Now why do I not find this as so surprising ;-)

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Now why do I not find this as so surprising ;-)

Because you haven't published anything ... yet, Phil ? That would be my ride.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

It gives me results for many other pairs I choose. That is I’m not checking my correspondence, but Einstein and Bohr’s. My suspicion is neither had people they were connected which each found as complimentary ;-)

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

My suspicion is neither had people they were connected which each found as complimentary ;-)

Physics joke, Phil? You're started to scare me bro, I may have found the one person on the planet ever geekier than me. :)

Count Iblis said...

I'm at six steps from both Dirac and from Bee :)

Plato said...

I am not sure how this works either.

Donald Coxeter with Paul Erdos.


What is the collaboration distance?

Was doing some reading from King of Space, by Siobhan Roberts, Donald Coxeter, the Man Who Saved Geometry.

Pg 33, and you can qualify the statement made there?

Best,

stefan said...

Here is another tool with a fancy graphical representation of the link:

http://academic.research.microsoft.com/VisualExplorer

But IMO the data base is a bit shaky, and who is "Max v Laue Str" ;-)?

Cheers, Stefan

Steven Colyer said...

Stefan I don't know what that links about because I was asked to download something called Microsoft Internet Explorer Silver light (what is that?) and ever bell and whistle on my computer went off warning me not to.

from Wikipedia:

"Max Theodor Felix von Laue (9 October 1879 – 24 April 1960) was a German physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1914 for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays by crystals. In addition to his scientific endeavors with contributions in optics, crystallography, quantum theory, superconductivity, and the theory of relativity, he had a number of administrative positions which advanced and guided German scientific research and development during four decades. He was instrumental in re-establishing and organizing German science after World War II. He was strongly opposed to National Socialism."