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Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Friday, December 30, 2005 - 9:42 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

More than a democracy.

Type: Consideration about some fact.
Level: Intermediary, requires one piece of special knowledge, which I will give when it becomes necessary.
Harley Quinn (Harley)
Posted on Friday, December 30, 2005 - 11:52 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In this case does more mean bigger? More important? Allows more freedom than a democracy? More juistice? Does it generally work better than a democracy? Or is this a democracy as well as something else?
Are we talking about a government? If so, a real one? Is it simply a way that people live?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Friday, December 30, 2005 - 12:06 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In this case does more mean bigger? No.
More important? Noish.
Allows more freedom than a democracy? Noish.
More justice? This one, in some respect.
Does it generally work better than a democracy? Who knows?
Or is this a democracy as well as something else? Noish.
Are we talking about a government? No.
If so, a real one? No.
Is it simply a way that people live? Yope.
Harley Quinn (Harley)
Posted on Saturday, December 31, 2005 - 12:11 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Are we talkiing about one specific law? One rule? One custom?
Is this...whatever it is...more representative of the people than a democracy? Does this have to do with courts?
Is it 'more than' a theoretical democracy? Or democracy as it's practiced in modern times? Or both?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Monday, January 02, 2006 - 8:33 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Are we talking about one specific law? Not about a law at all.
One rule? Could be vaguely described as a rule.
One custom? Or a custom.
Is this...whatever it is...more representative of the people than a democracy? Yes, that's the idea.
Does this have to do with courts? No.
Is it 'more than' a theoretical democracy? Possibly.
Or democracy as it's practiced in modern times? But definitely this.
Or both?
Eliot (Eliot)
Posted on Monday, January 02, 2006 - 3:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Do people engage in this custom (for want of a better word) regularly? Is it a way to decide something? A type of voting?
Is it more representative because everyone gets a voice? Because there's no middle man? Because there are more choices?
Lewis Zeiters (Lzeiters)
Posted on Monday, January 02, 2006 - 3:56 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

this forum relevant?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Monday, January 02, 2006 - 4:54 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Eliot
Do people engage in this custom (for want of a better word) regularly? Custom is not a bad word at all. There are a few people who are actively involved, and a large group of people who are involved but perhaps do not care.
Is it a way to decide something? No.
A type of voting? No.
Is it more representative because everyone gets a voice? Yope.
Because there's no middle man? Yope.
Because there are more choices? There is, actually, no choice at all for the people involved.

Lewis
this forum relevant? To life, yes. To this puzzle, no.
Haenlomal (Haenlomal)
Posted on Monday, January 02, 2006 - 6:49 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The ancient Greek city-states relevant?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Monday, January 02, 2006 - 7:01 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The ancient Greek city-states relevant? No.
Tommy Petersson (Tommyp)
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 9:21 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's "more representative of the people" because you don't have the system of electing people as "proxies" for you?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 10:10 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It's "more representative of the people" because you don't have the system of electing people as "proxies" for you? You don't have. Actually, you don't have anybody elected at all. But don't think too much about politics and government here, it will lead you down the wrong alley.
The title is, as usual, not chosen arbitrarily.
kleptohell (Klepto)
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 2:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is the title relevant? Anything about academia? philosophy? a honorary society?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 2:29 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is the title relevant? I do my best that the titles of my puzzles give you some clue, but not more. :)
Anything about academia? Yes.
philosophy? But no.
a honorary society? No three letter societies involved here.
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Saturday, January 28, 2006 - 3:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

RECAP
More than a democracy.

This is about some sort of custom related to academia (but not philosophy). This custom creates a structure in a particular group of people that is "more representative" than a democracy. Politics and governance are not relevant here, though.

EXPLANATION & HINT
Title is taken from the following quotation:
"While in science, the carters have to work when the kings are building, mathematics is a true Republic of Scholars, where everyone has to be both king and carter at the same time." (Leopold Kronecker)


RELIEF
You don't need to know much about mathematics to solve this puzzle. (but maybe something about mathematicians)
John Morahan (Wunderland)
Posted on Sunday, January 29, 2006 - 7:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Peer review relevant?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Monday, January 30, 2006 - 11:01 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Peer review relevant? No.
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Wednesday, February 08, 2006 - 4:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No one interested? OK, then I'll push it some steps on: The "custom" is the Erdös number.
Simon Downham (Beroean)
Posted on Friday, February 10, 2006 - 11:32 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is this about the level of collaboration that can be demostrated among mathematicians?

Their collaboration appears to amount to a some sort of dynamic consensus that is better than a democracy?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 7:47 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Is this about the level of collaboration that can be demostrated among mathematicians? Yes, or to be more precisely, it shows the level of collaboration with Pál Erdös. Mr Erdös himself has Erdös number zero, those who wrote an article together with Mr Erdös have Erdös number 1, those who wrote an article together with someone having Erdös number 1 have Erdös number 2, and so on.

Their collaboration appears to amount to a some sort of dynamic consensus that is better than a democracy? It's even more directly: Think about what is desirable or prestigous about the Erdös number.
Mosquito (Mosquito)
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 10:17 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Less is more? So it is a hypocracy, which is more... empowering to the underclass than a democracy?
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 4:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Less is more? So it is a hypocracy, which is more... empowering to the underclass than a democracy? Yope .. it is desirable to have a low Erdös number (..though it does not tell anything about quality or even quantity of research..) but think about chances of achieving it.
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - 12:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

FINAL
As you folks do not show much interest in this one, I might give the solution.

As mentioned before, the Erdös number gives something like the "collaborative distance" between any mathematician and Pál Erdös (the smaller the closer). Although this number was intended by its inventors more as a joke, and it does not tell anything about research quality or quantity, some mathematicians started to take it serious and a low Erdös number means fame and prestige. (There are cases reported where people with a low Erdös number sold co-authorship of their articles on eBay ..)

The vast majority of Erdös numbers in the mathematicians' community is between 5 and 8. (The author of this miserable puzzle has Erdös number 6, for example.) Erdös numbers above 10 are as rare as those below 2.

But this is about to change: As Pál Erdös died in 1994, no one can any longer achieve an Erdös number of 1. That means, the group of people having Erdös number 1 is fixed and can never be overturned. But these people are also bound to die some far day, and when they're all dead the group of people having Erdös number 2 becomes fixed. And so on, and so on.

So, if you're a mathematician and want to be among the people with lowest Erdös number alive, you only have to do two things:
- write an article together with somebody else
- live long enough.

This extends somewhat the common view of mathematics as a "Republic of Scholars". In a democracy everyone has a chance to be elected leader, but for most is this chance merely theoretical. In mathematics, on the other hand, everyone will at some point among the leaders (in terms of Erdös number) provided he or she only lives long enough.


Sorry if it was too technical. Thanks to all who, nevertheless, gave it a chance.

Would be interested to know Buzzard's Erdös number, though. :)

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