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The idea that technology can make difficult, even painful tasks — including looking for love — is a pervasive and seductive one, but are their matchmaking powers overstated? I n the summer of , a Harvard undergraduate named Jeff Tarr decided he was fed up with the university's limited social circle. As a maths student, Tarr had some experience of computers, and although he couldn't program them himself, he was sure they could be used to further his primary interest: With a friend he wrote up a personality quiz for fellow students about their "ideal date" and distributed it to colleges across Boston.
Operation Match was born.
Cupid's algorithm: Do dating sites know love's formula?
Each questionnaire was transferred to a punch-card, fed into the machine, and out popped a list of six potential dates, complete with address, phone number and date of graduation, which was posted back to the applicant. Each of those six numbers got the original number and five others in their response: Even at the birth of the computer revolution, the machine seemed to have an aura about it, something which made its matches more credible than a blind date or a friend's recommendation.
Shalit quoted a freshman at Brown University who had dumped her boyfriend but started going out with him again when Operation Match sent her his number. Shalit imbued it with even more weight, calling it "The Great God Computer". The computer-dating pioneers were happy to play up to the image of the omniscient machine — and were already wary of any potential stigma attached to their businesses. We supply everything but the spark. DeWan made the additional claim that Contact's questions were more sophisticated than Match's nationwide efforts, because they were restricted to elite college students.
In essence, it was the first niche computer-dating service. Over the years since Tarr first starting sending out his questionnaires, computer dating has evolved. Most importantly, it has become online dating.
And with each of these developments — through the internet, home computing, broadband, smartphones, and location services — the turbulent business and the occasionally dubious science of computer-aided matching has evolved too. Online dating continues to hold up a mirror not only to the mores of society, which it both reflects, and shapes, but to our attitudes to technology itself.
Secret of eHarmony algorithm is revealed
The American National Academy of Sciences reported in that more than a third of people who married in the US between and met their partner online, and half of those met on dating sites. The rest met through chatrooms, online games, and elsewhere. Preliminary studies also showed that people who met online were slightly less likely to divorce and claimed to be happier in their marriages. The latest figures from online analytics company Comscore show that the UK is not far behind, with 5. When online dating moves not only beyond stigma, but beyond the so-called "digital divide" to embrace older web users, it might be said to have truly arrived.
It has taken a while to get there. It believed it could do this thanks to the research of its founder, Neil Clark Warren, a then old psychologist and divinity lecturer from rural Iowa.
His three years of research on 5, married couples laid the basis for a truly algorithmic approach to matching: Whatever you may think of eHarmony's approach — and many contest whether it is scientifically possible to generalise from married people's experiences to the behaviour of single people — they are very serious about it. Since launch, they have surveyed another 50, couples worldwide, according to the current vice-president of matching, Steve Carter.
When they launched in the UK, they partnered with Oxford University to research 1, British couples "to identify any cultural distinctions between the two markets that should be represented by the compatibility algorithms". Of course, science and mathematical deductions can only go so far. Finkel acknowledged online dating has some benefits, such as an increased pool of candidates.
Zhao and his team are also eager to continue testing the algorithm on different groups of people to refine the system. Furthermore, Zhao believes that his algorithm can transcend the world of love and has potential applications in the work environment and in university selection processes — where, perhaps, sexual chemistry is less important. Skip to main content. The 'perfect matchmaking formula' for online dating has finally been discovered. A new dating algorithm offers an easier and more scientific way to find that special someone.
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Friday, 06 December, , 8: Friday, 06 December, , 9: More on this story. China Insider A new app for Chinese netizens recovering from failed love: World People who met online may have happier marriages, says US survey 5 Jun You are signed up. F or 17 years, the online dating site eHarmony has closely guarded its matchmaking algorithm. Singles are asked to fill out an extensive list of personal preferences, before the computer programme spits out a list of suitable dates, picked to meet even the most demanding criteria.
The 'perfect matchmaking formula' for online dating has finally been discovered
The Chief Scientist at eHarmony has revealed that although singles are asked to choose likes and dislikes on a sliding scale, unless they pick the extreme ends their answers will be largely ignored. We needed to figure out a way to not allow them to paint themselves into such a corner. One in five relationships in the UK now begins online.