Using maths in real life, for love

Last updated 15:22 11/02/2014
Amy Webb
AMY WEBB: Her data was right on target.

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It's a familiar complaint from kids struggling with maths: "Why do I have to learn this? When am I ever going use algorithms (matrices, quadratic equations) in real life?"

Amy Webb has an answer. A tech geek who founded a digital strategy agency, she was single at 30 and sick of disappointing dates. So she set out to use her computational skills to find a husband.

In Data, a Love Story she describes how she created a spreadsheet of all her dates.

She used it to calculate, for example, that a man who ordered more than one drink on a first date was more likely than others to have lied about himself online.

She read up on Match.com's algorithms, OkCupid's "complex framework of math" and eHarmony's 29 dimensions of compatibility.

She developed a formula for evaluating men's e-profiles. She analysed how other women presented themselves online, calculated which keywords drew more responses, how long an effective personal description was. (Ninety to 100 words.) She plotted graphs, drew matrices.

She also lost weight and got a better haircut. (Maths isn't everything.)

Long story short, she married the first man she dated under her new system. They have a daughter and live in Baltimore.

She includes a note from her husband: "Because I'm sure you're wondering," he writes, "yes, I did appreciate the beauty of her perfect spreadsheets."

- Washington Post

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