OPEN UNIVERSITY JULY 17, 2007
By Jacob T. Levy
OU's Cass Sunstein has been identified as the linchpin of the network of coauthored legal scholarship--the legal academy's own Kevin Bacon or Paul Erdős--in "Six Degrees of Cass Sunstein: Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship", by Paul Edelman and Tracey George.
Degrees of separation is a concept that is intuitive and appealing in popular culture as well as academic discourse: It tells us something about the connectedness of a particular field. It also reveals paths of influence and access. Paul Erdős was the Kevin Bacon of his field--math--coauthoring with a large number of scholars from many institutions and across subfields. Moreover, his work was highly cited and important. Mathematicians talk about their Erdős number (i.e.,numbers of degrees of separation) as a sign of their connection to the hub of mathematics: An Erdős number of 2 means a scholar did not
co-author with Erdős but did collaborate with someone who did (i.e.,an Erdős 1). In this study, we examine collaboration networks in law, searching for the Legal Erdős. We crown Sunstein as the Legal Erdős and name a complete (as possible) list of Sunstein 1s and 2s.
The list is a serious who's who of the legal academy, the social
sciences (Kenneth Arrow, Gary Becker, Amartya Sen, James Q. Wilson) and the bench (Stephen Breyer, Richard Posner, Guido Calabresi).
You need to have coauthored something to be able to be part of the network, so I'm out. Commentors who have a calculable Sunstein number are encouraged to post it below, along with the route through the coauthored degrees of separation.