I do lots of stuff in “the outdoors”, for example rock/winter climbing, mountaineering, wild camping, skiing and scuba diving. The pictures of me climbing below are taken in the UK (we do sometimes get blue sky in Yorkshire!) I try to go running to keep fit and dragged myself round the Edinburgh marathon in May 2011 and the High Peak Marathon (43 miles!) in 2009.

Ice climbing up Clogwyn Du Gully Left Hand (IV 5) Leading Sunshine Crack
Allan’s crack at Brimham rocks Lower parts of Cautley Spout

Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath Number

Many Mathematicians and Computer Scientists publish their “Erdős number” on their websites. This is a measure of collaborative distance, in terms of published papers, between an author and the mathematician Paul Erdős, like the “6 degrees of separation” theory but applied to academics. It works as follows: authors who co-wrote a paper with Erdős have an Erdős number of 1. Those who co-wrote a paper with one of Erdős’s coauthors have an Erdős number of 2 and so on. My Erdős number is 4, which isn’t much to get excited about:

  • P. Erdos, R. Faudree, A. Jagota, T. Luczak, Large Subgraphs of Minimal Density or Degree, Journal of Combinatorial Mathematics and Combinatorial Computing, 22, pp. 87-96, 1996.

  • M. Pelillo and A. Jagota, Feasible and infeasible maxima in a quadratic program for maximum clique, Journal of Artificial Neural Networks, 2(4):411-420, 1995.

  • E. R. Hancock and M. Pelillo, A Bayesian interpretation for the exponential correlation associative memory, Pattern Recognition Letters, 19(2):149-159, 1998.

  • W.A.P. Smith and E.R. Hancock, Recovering Facial Shape using a Statistical Model of Surface Normal Direction. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, Volume 28, Number 12, pp. 1914-1930, 2006.

However, I also have a “Bacon Number”, which measures the degree of separation from an actor through roles in films to Kevin Bacon. This is because I was an extra in the film “Atonement” (I was one of 1000 extras playing soldiers for the Dunkirk scenes filmed on Redcar beach). Here I am looking all world war 2:

Me on the set of Atonement

  • Atonement stars Keira Knightley who was in “Love Actually” with Colin Firth

  • Colin Firth was in “Where the Truth Lies” with Kevin Bacon

So my Bacon number is 3. This gives me the tragically geeky claim to having an “Erdős-Bacon Number” of 7 (the sum of the two values). According to the wikipedia page, this would make me joint 29th in the world, equal to Stephen Hawking and one behind Natalie Portman!

But wait! It gets even better. There is now an even more ridiculous measure, which adds on your “Sabbath” number - the length of a musical connection to the band Black Sabbath. Mine is pretty convoluted:

  • I played percussion on this Frosties advert:

    with my uncle, Alf Thomas, who was in the Band of Holy Joy (great band - check them out).

  • The Band Holy Joy supported James on their 1989 Come Home tour

  • James had member Andy Diagram

  • Andy Diagram was a member of Pere Ubu who had member Chris Cutler

  • Chris Cutler was a member of Henry Cow who had member John Greaves

  • John Greaves was a member of National Health who had member Neil Murray

  • Neil Murray was a member of Black Sabbath!

giving me a Sabbath number of 6 and an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath number of E4+B3+S6 = 13. According to this site, that’s equal to Brian Cox!