The question is pretty basic. My Erdos Number is number of edges that seperates me from Mr. Erdos. Two people are connected with an edge if they contributed a paper together. I had written a master thesis under guidance of my mentor. He is mentioned on the front page but technically he is not the second author. Can I use this as a link in calculating my Erdos Number?

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    There are no official rules governing the calculation of Erdos numbers. Having said that, the answer is no, Master's theses don't count. – user37208 Sep 13 '16 at 19:46
  • May I know why the downvotes? – Sok Pomaranczowy Sep 15 '16 at 12:28
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    I didn't downvote it myself, and I think it's a more reasonable question than the -3 indicates. My best guess is that the downvotes are following the "does not show research effort" standard, on the grounds that no description I'm aware of makes it sound like thesis supervision counts. (But some descriptions are vague enough that it would be hard to know for sure how the community treats it.) – Anonymous Mathematician Sep 15 '16 at 15:05

Let me expand on user37208's comment. Nobody takes Erdős numbers too seriously, and the rules aren't quite precise. For example, do preprints count as lowering your Erdős number? Purists might say no, you have to wait until the paper is officially published, but nobody would judge you too harshly if you jumped the gun a little and counted a preprint.

However, everyone agrees on one basic rule: you can only count coauthored mathematics papers. Your thesis is not exactly a paper, and in any case your advisor is not a coauthor of your thesis, so it doesn't count. If you prepare a coauthored paper based on the thesis, then the situation will be different.

If you hang around with people who enjoy talking about Erdős numbers, you'll hear all sorts of weird variants. For example, people sometimes say that Hank Aaron has an Erdős number of 1 because he and Erdős once signed the same baseball, but this isn't intended seriously. Basically, if you can come up with a funny or surprising angle on things, people will let you bend the rules in all sorts of ways, but they won't really consider it legitimate.

  • Erdős himself apparently favored the variant in which only two-author papers count. – Mark Meckes Sep 15 '16 at 14:49

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