Say Hello to Eszter

by Kieran Healy on September 25, 2003

True to form, she’s jumped in already, but I wanted to welcome Eszter Hargittai as the latest member of the CT catnet. Eszter is a sociologist, is newly ensconced at Northwestern, was an office-mate of mine for a while in graduate school, has far too many publications for someone who just started their job last week, and has an Erdõs number of three.



Brian Weatherson 09.25.03 at 2:45 am

That is an impressive number of publications. I’ve known philosophers to be made full professors on the basis of (considerably) fewer than that.

But isn’t it Erdös rather than Erdõs? (I guess there’s a difference, but honestly I wouldn’t know what it is.)


Kieran Healy 09.25.03 at 2:48 am

You mean you don’t know Pablo Erdõs, the great Spanish mathematician? I read about him in a Borges story once.

I think it is Erdös.


J. Ellenberg 09.25.03 at 2:50 am

Eszter and I have the same Erdos number!


eszter 09.25.03 at 4:46 am

Thanks for the kind welcome and comments!

HTML and ASCII do not support the letter in Erdõs’s actual name. It is like an umlaut (the two dots) but instead of dots, they’re supposed to be two accent marks. Because the two dots (umlaut) on an o make an actual Hungarian letter whereas the tilde on the o does not, I think Hungarians sometimes opt to use the latter because the former (dots only) makes it seem as though it had been misspelled.

To add an interesting little twist, it’s possible that Paul Erdõs and I are related, as in real life. His mother’s maiden name was Wilhelm and the family was from Slovakia. My father’s original last name was Wilhelm, also a Hungarian Jewish family from Slovakia. Very few Jews had this last name in general and they were both from the same area so it’s not a crazy idea.

Of course, since so many members of both families died in the war and so much of the belongings were lost as well, these things are extremely hard to track down for sure.


Xhenxhefil 09.25.03 at 4:52 am

It’s neither. The o in Erdos either has two vertical lines or two acute accents. ő
At this website it’s listed as “LATIN SMALL LETTER O WITH DOUBLE ACUTE”.

It’s like an ö but longer. In Hungarian adding an acute accent to a vowel makes it longer; in order to add an acute accent to a vowel with an umlaut, you have to turn the two dots into two acute accents.

Added complication: most people when writing Hungarian make the accent a vertical line, since the acute is the only accent they have; there’s no need to tell it from a grave or a horizontal line.

I think the only languages that use õ are Portuguese and Estonian.


xhenxhefil 09.25.03 at 4:53 am

Sorry, I wrote that before the similar post by an actual Hungarian person.


Henry 09.25.03 at 5:04 am

“Structurally equivalent” are we? Next thing we know, you’ll be blockmodelling us all into some collective categorical oblivion of groupthink…


mitch 09.25.03 at 6:40 am

I want a small Erdös number too! Eszter? Jordan? Do you want to do a paper on network status and academic collaboration? It would pretty much write itself.


Kieran Healy 09.25.03 at 7:54 am

“Structurally equivalent” are we? Next thing we know, you’ll be blockmodelling us all into some collective categorical oblivion of groupthink…

Yeah, that’s what Chris and Daniel said, too.


Barry Scritchfield 09.25.03 at 9:20 am

Wow, this is a lot of neato information. Have any Don Luskin types called you for a job in the private sector?


Chris 09.25.03 at 10:18 am

Hi Eszter – welcome on board!

BTW, what does it take to have an Erdös number of three? I take it that means taught by someone who was taught by someone who was taught by Erdös. (Since if mere meeting is allowed I have a Stalin number of 3 by 4 possible routes – not that that’s anything to be proud of!)


Doug 09.25.03 at 10:42 am

Szia Eszter!!


Shai 09.25.03 at 11:37 am


see this page

“Our criterion for inclusion of an edge between vertices u and v is some mathematical collaboration between them resulting in a published work. Any number of additional co-authors is permitted.”


J. Ellenberg 09.25.03 at 4:03 pm

Mitch, if you write papers on networks you probably already _do_ have a small Erdos number…

I guess the real question is, if the paper writes itself, does that attach an Erdos number to the paper or to the null author?


mitch 09.26.03 at 11:26 am

My one publication is in biophysics and gives me an Erdos number of (at most) five. But after re-reading WRITE.THESIS.FAST, I’ve realized that I was thinking way too small. There’s room for a whole new discipline here. I can see it now: “Reflexive Interdisciplinary Studies” … simultaneously a manifesto and a case study. And it would be set apart from all those other sciences that study themselves by its unique combination of sociological rigor, mathematical depth, and pure self-referentiality (no prizes for guessing our respective contributions). It’s the future of science, I tell you!

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