It meant a lot of late nights as he ran complex calculations through a powerful supercomputer in the early hours of the morning, when computing time was cheap. While his work hummed away, he whiled away time on online dating sites, but he didn't have a lot of luck — until one night, when he noted a connection between the two activities. One of his favourite sites, OkCupid , sorted people into matches using the answers to thousands of questions posed by other users on the site. McKinlay started by creating fake profiles on OkCupid, and writing programs to answer questions that had also been answered by compatible users — the only way to see their answers, and thus work out how the system matched users. He managed to reduce some 20, other users to just seven groups, and figured he was closest to two of them. So he adjusted his real profile to match, and the messages started rolling in.
The algorithm method: how internet dating became everyone's route to a perfect love match
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Covering a story? Visit our page for journalists or call Get more with UChicago News delivered to your inbox. More than a third of marriages between and began online, according to new research at the University of Chicago, which also found that online couples have happier, longer marriages.
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While most early dating websites operated as simple platforms where users could freely browse and contact members, newer sites have made matchmaking technology an important value proposition. But are the lovelorn better served for it? It is therefore unclear whether profit-maximizing sites would strive for the most effective matchmaking technology, or deprioritize innovation. For centuries, matchmaking was mostly left in the hands of parents and older relatives. During most of the 20 th century, Americans chiefly relied on friends — and to a lesser extent family and even coworkers — to meet their significant other.
Now imagine you had a few million friends who could guide you through the thicket with their epic tales of success and failure. They sort and sift, crunch and correlate, catching whatever nuggets of mating wisdom fall out. Then they post a report of their findings — and the resultant dating tips — often with pop culture references, statistical graphs and pictures of half-naked young men and women.