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The Oracle
of Bacon

Who is the Center of the Hollywood Universe?

Hopefully, you've played around a bit with The Oracle of Bacon and discovered how few steps are necessary to link just about anybody who has ever been in a movie to Kevin Bacon, but could there be some actor or actress who is even closer to the center of the Hollywood universe? The answer turns out to be: yes.

By processing all of the 3.1 million people in the Internet Movie Database I discovered that there are currently 395 people who are better centers than Kevin Bacon! What does it mean for one person to be a "better" center than another? Consider the following breakdown of people by Bacon Number (as of December 4, 2014):

Bacon Number# of people
0 1
1 2934
2 340418
3 1194502
4 303649
5 24514
6 2870
7 305
8 40
9 3
10 8

That means that there is 1 person who can be linked in 0 steps (Bacon himself), 2934 people who can be linked in 1 step, 340418 people who can be linked in 2 steps, etc. So we can compute the average Bacon Number as follows:

((0*1)+(1*2934)+(2*340418)+(3*1194502)+(4*303649)+(5*24514)+(6*2870)+(7*305)+(8*40)+(9*3)+(10*8)) / (1+2934+340418+1194502+303649+24514+2870+305+40+3+8)

= 5624224 / 1869244

= 3.009

So the average Bacon Number is about 3.009. We can compare that with the average Connery Number for actor Sean Connery. The breakdown is as follows (as of December 4, 2014):

Connery Number# of people
0 1
1 2625
2 361498
3 1216641
4 262193
5 22948
6 2940
7 337
8 50
9 3
10 8

By computing the average of these numbers we see that the average Connery Number is about 2.974 making Connery a better center than Bacon. This is not to denigrate Mr. Bacon, and it should be noted that being the 396th best center out of 3.1 million people makes Bacon a better center than 99% of the people who have ever appeared in a feature film. A list of the 1000 best centers in the Hollywood universe is available for your enjoyment.

Is there a "worst" center (or most obscure actor) in the Hollywood universe? Of course. I won't tell you the name of the person who produces the highest average number in the IMDb---won't you have more fun finding him/her yourself?---but his/her table looks like this (as of December 4, 2014):

XXXXXX Number# of people
0 1
1 8
2 1
3 14
4 4
5 8
6 14
7 29
8 503
9 13657
10 511186
11 1142070
12 184278
13 15139
14 2070
15 221
16 39
17 2

for an average of 10.830!