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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 3.2 million people in the Internet Movie Database I discovered that there are currently 405 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 March 17, 2015):

Bacon Number# of people
0 1
1 3034
2 352971
3 1246702
4 311464
5 25535
6 2983
7 352
8 48
9 9
10 1

That means that there is 1 person who can be linked in 0 steps (Bacon himself), 3034 people who can be linked in 1 step, 352971 people who can be linked in 2 steps, etc. So we can compute the average Bacon Number as follows:

((0*1)+(1*3034)+(2*352971)+(3*1246702)+(4*311464)+(5*25535)+(6*2983)+(7*352)+(8*48)+(9*9)+(10*1)) / (1+3034+352971+1246702+311464+25535+2983+352+48+9+1)

= 5843450 / 1943100

= 3.007

So the average Bacon Number is about 3.007. We can compare that with the average Jackson Number for actor Samuel L. Jackson. The breakdown is as follows (as of March 17, 2015):

Jackson Number# of people
0 1
1 6021
2 502903
3 1209346
4 205216
5 17103
6 2233
7 228
8 39
9 9
10 1

By computing the average of these numbers we see that the average Jackson Number is about 2.862 making Jackson a better center than Bacon. This is not to denigrate Mr. Bacon, and it should be noted that being the 406th best center out of 3.2 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 March 17, 2015):

XXXXXX Number# of people
0 1
1 1
2 1
3 1
4 1
5 6
6 9
7 95
8 1740
9 25974
10 433946
11 1197677
12 256628
13 23942
14 2646
15 374
16 48
17 10

for an average of 10.909!