Gmail number

If you are at all attached to the academic discipline of Discrete Mathematics (combinatorics, graph theory, network theory, binary/integer programming, etc. as opposed to Continuous Mathematics, e.g. Calculus, Differential Equations, Topology, etc.), then you know what an Erdös Number is. (Since I once published a paper with Richard Karp, who has Erdös Number 2, I have Erdös Number 3; I could have gotten a 2 myself if I had researched and published with Vašek Chvátal, instead of just taking classes from him).

Similarly, I know that among Disc Golfers, there is a cache to having a low PDGA membership number. I missed the opportunity to grab a 4-digit number when I started playing back in, say, ’95 or ’96. If I were to join right now, I would have to settle for #29503.

Anyhoo, I have been using Gmail for a few months now, but I gave out my first invite only yesterday, and noticed that I am limited to 100 (although I could presumably give myself another invite and get a fresh account with another quota of 100). I recall the furor with which Gmail took over — everybody was talking about it, everybody was switching over to it, everybody was either offering invites, or looking for invites. When I decided to act on my invite from The Forester, I remember thinking “I bet there will eventually be some prestige attached to having a gmail account of Beta vintage.”

To refine that concept further, I hereby propose the institution of a Gmail Number. A person’s gmail number is defined as the length of the invite chain that led to their account. Or in the event of an individual with multiple accounts, their shortest invite chain (not necessarily their first).

I imagine that Gmail Number 0 would be reserved for either co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or perhaps the Gmail development team. It might be a fun marketing possibility for Google, if they could find a way to compute Gmail Numbers for their users, and present some charts and graphs about the distribution/demographics of Gmail Numbers. I bet it would be a very interesting tool for studying the epidemic-like spread of Gmail usage; in fact, I bet somebody at Google is already doing it!


6 Responses

  1. If only we could get a percentage of all the Google advertising revenue generated by the invites we send out that are accepted. That’d be a nice little pyramid scheme …

  2. I was in G-mail pretty early. So early, in fact, that G-mail didn’t work with Mozilla. Is there some way to find out, at least, exactly when you first got in?

  3. Search for “The Gmail Team” and look at the date of the automatic message that inaugurated your account. Wow, I hit my one year anniversary two days ago! But I didn’t start really using until 9/9, which is when I found out how to upload my Outlook Express history from home.

    And if you want a percentage of Google revenue, add AdSense to your blog; for WordPress you would need your own domain, or maybe it will be an available Widget soon, but for blogspot you can just hand-add the necessary HTML to your template.

  4. Hey,

    Didn’t I collaborate with you on some extremely wild software last year? Doesn’t that get me something?

  5. As soon as we publish a paper together about that software, you will join the ranks of Erdos # 4! I’m not sure how the mystical keepers of the Erdos numbers define “paper” though.

  6. The guy who has theoretically taken it upon himself to maintain Erdos numbers for people in our Department defines the link requirement as having a “proper” peer-reviewed publication with mathematics at its heart. So, no workshops in Las Vegas, and it must be on the “permanent” record, so online proceedings in a postdoc’s web hierarchy don’t cut it. I have an Erdos number of 4 so far, so you just pipped me, bro.

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