Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Find Me An … Algorithm?

Drew Lederman
A still from the Black Mirror episode “Hang the DJ”, an episode featuring dating apps.

The most recent season of the hit Netflix original show “Black Mirror” featured an episode titled, “Hang the DJ.” It explored an alternate world where adults use a dating app that sets them up with different people to determine their ultimate compatible partner.

And doesn’t everyone want that: a surefire match that a near-perfect algorithm finds for you? Well, it seems like an overarching sentiment among college students given that several American university students have created matchmaking services for their respective universities.

For example, Stanford has a program called the “Marriage Pact” which assigns everyone a backup spouse. It was created by students using a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm. Wellesley, Brown and Harvard have similar algorithms. They match all participants with someone based on compatibility — think Match.com — but the matches are only from one university.

When asked if she would be interested in a program like this, LS sophomore Carmen Colosi, a dating app user, said she would be interested in the service.

“I think it has the potential to work better than a dating app because I find a lot of the time on dating apps that I just go purely off looks … and that’s not how I am as a person,” said Colosi.

The novelty aspect of the matches being limited to students who go to the same school and the reasoning behind each match interested Colosi, who said,  “I find that really exciting having to sit down with someone and talk about why you’re compatible.”

That begs the question: how accurate are these matchmaking services? When asked about the topic, computer science professors declined to comment.

It is easy to match people together based on shared interests, but that doesn’t prove compatibility.

Still, it is a romantic idea: a world where you don’t have to worry about your next date, staying single forever or a marriage ending in divorce.

In today’s fast-paced society, people, millennials especially, love instant gratification and foolproof guarantees. And while the computer science behind programs like this may not hold up, maybe there is a way to analyze someone’s trends or ask the right questions to match people together somewhat accurately.

In “Black Mirror” the two characters fall in love, but the app does not decide to pair them, so they run away together. In the end, the whole episode turns out to be a mere simulation — part of a dating app that uses the simulations to test compatibility for real people. Maybe in the future, real world programs will have the technology to use simulations to test a couple’s compatibility before they ever meet.

If you spent this past Valentine’s Day alone wishing you had a special someone, this might be a fun project to coerce your computer science friends into creating. Regardless, it’s a fun and interesting way to meet people who you may be compatible with.

 

Email Drew Lederman at [email protected].

 

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