a professor at Berkeley) is very smart, but at least when he was
younger he was unsure of himself. So when he finished grad
school, and wanted to become a professor, he applied to Berkeley, MIT,
Stanford, University of Illinois, CMU, Maryland,
Texas, UNC, CalTech, NYU, Toronto, USC, Chicago, Princeton, UCLA,
Washington, Columbia, Purdue, UCLA (different department), Wisconsin,
Davis, Rice, UC Santa Barbara, Yale, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, UC Santa
Cruz, Indiana, Stanford (different department), and UC San Diego.
He asked me to write
31 recommendation letters, one to each of these schools, and
fill out each school's recommendation forms (probably an average of 5
pages each). All this work was completely unnecessary; Doug
had a great
track record by the end of grad school, and anyone who Doug knew that
a few schools would suffice. So we (myself, Ron Ellickson, Rodger
Hughes, Rodger Scott, Leslie Fong, and a few others) did this:
- First, we wrote a joke recommendation
- Then, we wrote several different replies that a pompous and surly
professor might write after receiving such a recommendation. Sample reply
- Meanwhile, the schools had written to me asking for
recommendations. These were written on official letterheads and
in official envelopes. A little creative work with scissors and a
copy machine and we had
some blank 'official' stationery and envelopes.
- Then we hand typed (remember this is 1986) the surly replies onto
the official paper. We stamped 'received' on copies of the joke
recommendation, copied it, and put the copy of the joke letter, and the
surly reply, into official envelopes.
- People going home for Christmas mailed the letters from the
associated with each school, so the postmarks would be correct.
About 2 days later, I got the following notes on my desk (this is
before voicemail...) 10:00 - Doug called. 10:10 - Doug
called. 10:20 - Doug called. 10:30 - Never mind. By
this time Doug had called the schools, who assured him there was
nothing particularly outrageous about his reference letters.
Doug, of course, was accepted as a professor by the top choice on his
My Erdös number is at most 3:
- I have a joint patent with Jeff Salowe (Scheffer
and Salowe, Method and apparatus for reducing signal integrity and
reliability problems in ICs through netlist changes during placement,
US patent #6,543,041).
- Jeff Salowe co-authored
with Endre Szemerédi (Cole R, Salowe JS, Steiger WL,
Szemerédi E: An optimal-time algorithm
for slope selection, SIAM JOURNAL ON COMPUTING, 18(4), 792-810 (1989) ),
- Szemerédi co-authored with Erdös (Erdos P,
Sárközy A, Szemerédi E: On the divisibility
sequences of integers, I, ACTA ARITHMETICA, 11, 411-418 (1966) ).
Grossman, who keeps the
site on Erdös numbers
, about whether patents should be
We both thought they should, since they are collaborative work,
are published, and they are peer reviewed.). If patents are not
then my number is at most 5, though the chain - myself, Carl Sechen,
Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincintelli, Robert Brayton, Alan Hoffman,