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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 406 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 January 13, 2015):

Bacon Number# of people
0 1
1 3018
2 349861
3 1231256
4 306009
5 24753
6 2963
7 360
8 32
9 16
10 2

That means that there is 1 person who can be linked in 0 steps (Bacon himself), 3018 people who can be linked in 1 step, 349861 people who can be linked in 2 steps, etc. So we can compute the average Bacon Number as follows:

((0*1)+(1*3018)+(2*349861)+(3*1231256)+(4*306009)+(5*24753)+(6*2963)+(7*360)+(8*32)+(9*16)+(10*2)) / (1+3018+349861+1231256+306009+24753+2963+360+32+16+2)

= 5765027 / 1918271

= 3.005

So the average Bacon Number is about 3.005. We can compare that with the average Jackson Number for actor Samuel L. Jackson. The breakdown is as follows (as of January 13, 2015):

Jackson Number# of people
0 1
1 5964
2 498028
3 1193574
4 201687
5 16495
6 2249
7 232
8 23
9 16
10 2

By computing the average of these numbers we see that the average Jackson Number is about 2.861 making Jackson a better center than Bacon. This is not to denigrate Mr. Bacon, and it should be noted that being the 407th 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 January 13, 2015):

XXXXXX Number# of people
0 1
1 2
2 9
3 7
4 18
5 22
6 4
7 7
8 658
9 12456
10 135114
11 1210121
12 514138
13 40932
14 4150
15 522
16 100
17 2
18 8

for an average of 11.234!