New Google Functionality: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!

New Google Functionality: The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon!

Google has released a new feature which automatically calculates the “Bacon number” for any celebrity.

What’s a Bacon number?

If you’ve ever heard of the “six degrees of separation” (the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world) then this will be easier to understand.

“The Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” was a game started by college students in the nineties which sets out to understand how many degrees of separation there are between any actor/actress and Kevin Bacon. The game was initially created after Kevin made a bold statement claiming he had worked with “everyone in Hollywood” or someone who has worked with them. The higher the Bacon number, the farther away from Kevin Bacon the actor/actress is.

Let’s run through the game using Michael Jackson as an example

Michael Jackson has a Bacon number of 2.
  • Michael Jackson and Mos Def appeared in Ghosts.
  • Mos Def and Kevin Bacon appeared in The Woodsman.
Cool, huh?

How Google Fits In

For a very long time (the last 20 years or so) people would have to find these numbers manually, at first through discussions and watching movies and then using websites like IMDb to figure out the connections. There was even an “Oracle of Bacon” website that archived IMDb information and processed it! Now, the geeks over at Google have implemented a feature into their system that can find the Bacon number of any celebrity simply by typing “celebrity name bacon number”.
Using the Michael Jackson example gives us the below Google result:
Michael Jackson Bacon Number

Bacon number cheatcodes! Thanks Google!

So easy!

How Does it Work?

The Bacon number feature relies heavily on the Google Knowledge Graph crunching through the many, many sets of structured data to provide the user with more information and encourage them to spend more time inside Google. Though it may seem like a bit of fun or “playtime” it actually demonstrates the power of the Knowledge Graph that Google has spent so many years building and gives us a taste of what’s possible. It is quite exciting to see technology in action that allows this to be possible! From a technical perspective, I’m very excited to see what comes out of Google’s Knowledge Graph in the future. What would you like to see come out next?

Want more info on the Bacon number? Check out these sites!


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