You are here

Can Algorithms Lead to True Love?

Is there an algorithm for love?

A new start-up,, is sure hoping so. The new algorithm-based matchmaking service takes information from your Facebook page and matches you with people from your extended social circles who have the same interests. Do you like the same movies? Live in the same area? Why not grab a cup of coffee and talk about your common interests?


On the one hand, this seems like it should work. After all, haven’t all singles pored through pictures of their friends’ friends, found the cute profile picture and wanted more information about his or her relationship status? This service provides just that. One the other hand, how many of your Facebook “friends” are really friends? Are the bands, books, and shows we’ve liked on Facebook really indicative of who we are? The approach, rather than the flawless aim of Cupid, seems rather awkward and presumptuous.

Eli Finkel is a professor of social psychology at Northwestern University and he published a report on online dating and matchmaking services. “Technology is not the way to figure out who is compatible and will never be,” he said. “At the end of the day, the human algorithm — neural tissue in our cranium called a brain — has evolved over a long period of time to size up people efficiently. On a blind date, a person arrives and in that instant I can say I’m glad I did this or regret it.” isn’t the first to try using a love algorithm to jumpstart relationships. Matching algorithms have been used since the introduction of sites like eHarmony. Research indicates that the algorithms tend to be more random than precise, though, so even if they can limit the number of profiles shown in the matches, that doesn’t mean you’ll find true compatibility with another person. At the very least, it can introduce you to people you may not have otherwise met, and thus broaden the number of people you interact with. This could pave the way for more results down the road.

Ultimately, the problem with sites like is that they draw from our often less-than-accurate personas on Facebook. Rather than giving a completely honest picture of who we really are -- the picture you’re more likely to get on an actual first date -- we use social media sites to create how we want to be perceived. When algorithms pull from that data, then, they are starting from a flawed base.

But Rob Fishman, who led the development of explains that the service is more of an ice-breaker than anything else. Obviously you don’t know on the first date whether you want to marry the person, but the first date is essential in ultimately making that decision. Sites like can speed up the process just a little bit by filling both parties in on their similarities -- you like the same movies, so talk about them.

And yet, in spite of the more advanced algorithms, the technology still seems slow and cumbersome, especially when you consider the other technological advances out there like Siri, that can respond to questions and send email and text messages. The beauty of Cupid is that no one sees him shoot the arrow -- it just hits the heart at the right time. So it should go with technology, if it is to help with matching compatible couples. Whether it will ever get there, though, is a question yet to be answered.

Data Stories

How to increase sales by looking at your customer data

Are you a B2C company interested in increasing sales? If you have some form of customer data, you may be in luck.

IBM's Watson and the future of Healthcare Analytics

What would it be like to have a doctor who’s always up on the latest research and has learned about treatments from over 1.5 million previous cases? It would look alot like Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy! playing supercomputer that’s getting ready to roll out with an all new look and a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center education in oncology.

How Facebook's Graph Search will affect Google, Technology, and Privacy

What has been both feared and expected is finally on its way: Facebook is building a better search; they're opening their vast stores of user data and giving us the ability to discover what’s inside. Lars Rasmussen, the mind that brought us Google Maps, is now hard at work creating Facebook’s new Graph Search, and from the looks of it, it’s going to put unprecedented power in the hands of its users.

How Big Data and Analytics will Change Society.

The mission statement of most police departments includes something like this, “our goal is to increase public safety, prevent crime, and protect human life.” With sufficient records of criminal behavior and analytics tools like Crimespotting, Cities can have the ability to predict when and where crimes are likely to take place and dispatch accordingly.

The Big Data Revolution

Want to learn more about how big data is changing business and how you can take advantage? Pick up our latest book: The Big Data Revolution.

"With everyone talking about Big Data and Data Science, its tough to know whom to listen to and how to make sense of it all. This book cuts through the noise and presents the reader with a roadmap for success. Whether you've been in this space for a while or are just coming up to speed, Secrets of the Big Data Revolution is a must read."
-Chris Crosby, CEO of Inflection Point Global

Trend Watch

What Higher Education Teaches us about Data-Driven Customer Retention

Rio Salado Community College is currently optimizing their student retention through focused testing and they are finding some truly telling results. We can learn a lot about customer retention and segmenting by studying what they've done.

The Growing Collaborative Consumption Market

Remember the Big Data mantra? how Big Data will enable us to better understand everything, reduce waste, and improve efficiency? Well honestly, without concrete examples it fades into the mass of voices shouting about how great the world is going to be. So lets take a moment to talk about collaborative consumption and it’s implications.

Andreas Weigend on the Future of Social Data

Dr. Weigend, Stanford Professor and former Chief Data Scientist at Amazon, tells us about social data and it's implications.

Big Data and Government Transparency

A wealth of government data is available to us today on .gov sites and private sites across the web. If we analyzed this data properly, we could build a rich understanding of how our government works and how it could be improved. But as the big data challenge dictates, the chokepoint is consumption.


Gartner splits the 2014 Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant in two.

In an interesting turn, Gartner decided this year to split the annual Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.

New Gartner Magic Quadrant: Advanced Analytics Platforms

The big story this year is how Gartner split the Business

How RoboCharm is using data to optimize customer interactions

Let’s face it, the ultimate goal for any use of data is to drive profits, and more often than not that comes back to learning how to enga