Aug. 2, 2011 at 12:27 PM ET
Anyone who's been set up on a blind date with someone described as "perfect for you!" by a close friend or other sort of amateur matchmaker — only to spend an awkward couple of hours in the sixth through ninth circle of dating hell— will be instantly enraged to hear about the latest
"Synapse," an algorithm project Match.com's been developing for the past two years, is designed to look past what you say you want in a potential mate, and suggest who you really want, the Financial Times reports:
So, if a woman says she doesn't want to date anyone older than 26, but often looks at profiles of thirty-somethings, Match will know she is in fact open to meeting older men. Synapse also uses "triangulation". That is, the algorithm looks at the behaviour of similar users and factors in that information, too.
It sounds a lot like those personality tests that ask you the same question 30 different ways to trick you into answering truthfully.
Sure, you don't need an algorithm to know that what people say is very often different from what they do, but the new math seems to be working for Match.com. While it's unknown how many actual dates Synapse helped orchestrate, users are interacting more with the top 5 date suggestions they're asked to rate daily, according to the site.
"Secret sauce" is how Nick Paumgarten of the New Yorker described the various exercises and algorithms online dating sites tout to attract hopeful singles to their services. "All these sites they all have an approach that they abide by," Paumgarten pointed out in an NPR interview about "Looking for Someone," his July expose on online dating services. "But the approach is also their — sort of their selling point."
Indeed, some of the dissatisfied Match.com customers called out by the Financial Times piece echo what you might hear on any dating site — be it eHarmony or OKCupid.
"The Match algorithm should have figured out that I don't want a 45-year-old from New Jersey," one thirty-something professional woman from Manhattan told the Financial Times. "Every time I log on I feel faintly insulted."
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