Skip to main content

The Oracle of Bacon

There is a statistic available for any actor known as that actor’s “Bacon Number.” It reports fewest number of links needed to relate that actor to Kevin Bacon through movies.  Two people are linked if they were in a movie together. For example George Clooney was in “And They Are Off” with Bill Allen, and Bill Allen was in “My One and Only” with Kevin Bacon. Therefore, George Clooney has a Bacon number of 2. The average Bacon number is about 3. It is nearly impossible to find an actor with a Bacon number larger than 6. If you visit you can also find information using other actors as a center. So you could potentially find someone’s “Clooney number.” The best centers have a low average connection number. Kevin Bacon is considered a good center because he has been in so many movies, but there are other actors such as Sean Connery with lower average connection numbers.

The network of all actors can be modelled as a graph where the nodes are the actors and the edges are their common movies. This graph would look very much like the global friendship network. It is very likely that this network is connected since it is very unlikely that there is an actor that has only been in one movie with no one else. The network is most likely one giant component. There is surely no second giant component because it would only take one actor to have been in a movie with another from the other component to form a bridge between them. An actor’s Bacon number is similar to the idea of “six degrees of separation.” Most actors can be connected to Kevin Bacon within 3 or 4 links. You can also imagine that different paths could be taken to connect different actors. For example George Clooney was also in “Leatherheads” with Jim Keisler, and Jim Keisler was in “Death Sentence” with Kevin Bacon. This path shows another way that George Clooney’s Bacon number is 2.

For more information on the algorithm that acquires and stores this information visit:


Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

September 2014
« Aug   Oct »