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Matchmaking with Big Data

How I hacked online dating | Amy Webb | TEDTalks Youtube Account |

How I hacked online dating | Amy Webb | TEDTalks Youtube Account |

Rudder of OKCupid revealed that there is surprising information data analysis has returned. By compiling data of OKCupid members who ended up in relationship via the online platform, they found three questions most first dates agreed on:
1. “Do you like horror movies?”
2. “Have you ever travelled around another country alone?”
3. “Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?”

The seemingly innocuous questions reveal much more about personality and life trajectory than dozens of useless data points. Amy Webb’s TEDTalk, titled “How I Hacked Online Dating,” has almost 4.5 million views. This is because people not only find the topic interesting, but they likely have had similar, perhaps negative, experiences in online dating. Users are asked questions that, while useful, can’t encapsulate a person as a whole. What she did was reverse-engineer the system and create her own data points to find Mr. Right. She used 72 data points to find a match…and it worked! She had great success finding a sea of quality fish. Unfortunately, they didn’t like her back, due to the way she, herself, had presented and assembled her profile. That led her to study what made other users likable and popular. The results ranged average message word counts (97), to average time between communications (23 hours) and, of course, the photos. The problem wasn’t a lack of data—it was just the wrong data.
For example, Dr Kang Zhao, an assistant professor at the University of Iowa and an expert in business analytics and social network analysis, has created a match-making system based on a technique known as collaborative filtering.
Dr Zhao’s system looks at users’ behaviour as they browse a dating site for prospective partners, and at the responses they receive from people they contact.
“If you are a boy we identify people who like the same girls as you – which indicates similar taste – and people who get the same response from these girls as you do – which indicates similar attractiveness,” he explains.

According to an infographic entitled Big Data Seeks Online Love by the Berkeley School of Information, one in 10 Americans has used a dating site or mobile app, and 23 percent have met a spouse or long-term partner through these sites. In fact, 11 percent of American couples who have been together for 10 years or less met online.

The matching has improved. In 2005, 47% of people agreed that online dating allows you to find a better match; in 2013, that number went up to 53%. Is online dating a good way to meet people? Forty-four percent said yes in 2005, while 59% said yes in 2013.