• Lawrence Buhain

Mrs. Boes Earns Her Erdős Stripes in the World of Mathematics



Mrs. Alisan Boes, an Honors Algebra 2/Trigonometry and AP Calculus BC teacher here at Tesoro, is now a published author. Her article “Sibling Longevity” recently appeared in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Journal. In the article, the Boes duo explores the statistical likelihood of one, or more, siblings in a family of nine surviving to 100 years of age.


The published article marks a major accomplishment in her career, but also is the culmination of a lengthy period of research, writing and edits.


Boes reveals the idea for the article came to her after learning about her father’s coveted Erdős number.


“Whoever worked with mathematician Paul Erdős received an Erdős number of 1, and whoever worked with that person received an Erdős number of 2, and so on,” explains Boes. “After I read a piece about Natalie Portman receiving an Erdős number, I learned my father, Duane Boes, worked directly with Paul Erdos and had the coveted number of 1.”


That realization meant Boes could secure her personal Erdős number of 2 – the highest for anyone to receive now – given Erdős’ passing. Boes’ father saw opportunity, as well, to project a new Erdős number field and ensure a new line might be possible.


On background: Paul Erdos was a mathemetician known to have collaborated with hundreds of mathematicians worldwide; his contributions to math are enormous. In tribute, and to recognize his value to the math world, his friends began the process of creating Erdős numbers for authors of published articles to illustrate how closely a mathematician collaborated with him and to show his incredible impact. Less than 5% of mathematicians have an Erdős’ number of 2 or lower.


As Boes and her father joined forces, her article subject changed. Ultimately it is a piece on the basis of the probability of how long each family member in our family tree would live in their life.


The process proved to be a grueling one. Boes and her father started in 2017 - five years before the release date. “As my father lived in Colorado, I had to work with my father on the article up there with him together,” she pointed out. After years of putting this article together, Boes submitted the publication for review in August 2021, which also came with some edits.


“My article underwent edits in November that year and again in February of this year before finally being published in the August issue of Mathematics Journal this year,” adds Boes. “It really was a very long process to get here.”


Boes did secure an Erdős number of 2 as a result of her published article, thanks to her father’s contribution. “With my Erdős number of 2, I like to brag that I beat Natalie Portman,” she jokingly adds with a smile.


To read Mrs. Boes’ article, go to – https://pubs.nctm.org/view/journals/mtlt/115/8/article-p582.xml.


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