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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 2.6 million people in the Internet Movie Database I discovered that there are currently 369 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 April 28, 2013):

Bacon Number# of people
0 1
1 2769
2 305215
3 1021901
4 253177
5 20060
6 2033
7 297
8 25
9 7

That means that there is 1 person who can be linked in 0 steps (Bacon himself), 2769 people who can be linked in 1 step, 305215 people who can be linked in 2 steps, etc. So we can compute the average Bacon Number as follows:

((0*1)+(1*2769)+(2*305215)+(3*1021901)+(4*253177)+(5*20060)+(6*2033)+(7*297)+(8*25)+(9*7)) / (1+2769+305215+1021901+253177+20060+2033+297+25+7)

= 4806450 / 1605485

= 2.994

So the average Bacon Number is about 2.994. We can compare that with the average Connery Number for actor Sean Connery. The breakdown is as follows (as of April 28, 2013):

Connery Number# of people
0 1
1 2564
2 338016
3 1044666
4 201058
5 16874
6 1971
7 291
8 37
9 7

By computing the average of these numbers we see that the average Connery Number is about 2.937 making Connery a better center than Bacon. This is not to denigrate Mr. Bacon, and it should be noted that being the 370th best center out of 2.6 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 April 28, 2013):

XXXXXX Number# of people
0 1
1 7
2 2
3 4
4 2
5 33
6 7
7 411
8 10068
9 189897
10 1054696
11 323166
12 24544
13 2426
14 191
15 30

for an average of 10.105!