A new tool has been added to Google’s search engine: The ability to derive a “Bacon number.” The Bacon number is based on the well-known game that everyone can be connected to actor Kevin Bacon in fewer than six steps.
By typing in “Bacon number” before any actor’s name into the search engine, Google will provide the degree of separation between the two. It will also provide the films that link them. As of now, only famous actors are allotted a Bacon number.
A few surprising Bacon numbers are:
Helen Keller’s Bacon number is four.
Barack Obama’s Bacon number is two.
Charlie Chaplin’s Bacon number is two.
Kevin Bacon’s Bacon number is zero.
Through the use of mathematical modeling, social networks may be analyzed. In a standard, albeit crude, “Bacon model” each individual is referred to as a node. Financial exchange, prestige, common interest and relationships of religious beliefs may connect nodes. These connections are called links and in this model are defined by the films the actors share. The combination of links and nodes visually creates an image similar to a spider’s web. Kevin Bacon and the desired actor will be connected by a series of links and nodes; the shortest path between them will be tallied leaving the resulting Bacon number.
These types of network problems are solved using “brute force paths,” which is done by counting every possible link between two nodes. But in this type of problem, the links grow exponentially and may take an unreasonable amount of time to count. While a fun element of pop culture, Google’s Bacon number is no small feat.
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