OkCupid and the man who cracked it.

ImageOkcupid is one of the most popular free dating sites on the internet today. It uses a complex algorithm to match people based on a vast questionnaire. People can also rate how much these questions mean to them. This allows the magical Okcupid computer to match people better.

Now you may be asking what would happen if someone figured out how to manipulate this data and algorithm to his own means?  Well turns out someone did and he was a mathematician of all things.

Chris McKinlay used his knowledge of mathematics and statistics to find his perfect “Match.” He actually started out on the site as a normal user and went about it like a normal person would, but it dawned on him that he should start thinking like a Mathematician instead of a normal person.

Normally Okcupid asks on average 350 questions to a user and uses that for matching potential matches. The problem with this approach is when you have a question bank of over one thousand questions some of them get left out among other various problems.

McKinlay set up multiple fake profiles to gather information from women from all around the country. Using his college’s computer and a form of true random sampling (Davies,2007) he harvested over 6 million questions. Using this information and a text analysis of all the data he collected he created the “Perfect” profile and it worked quite well.

The methods which he used for this were very sound and mathematical. It made sense. Okcupid was actually created by math majors at Harvard and started in 2004. This guy literally took what they had created and tweaked it to his own ends. I for one can’t really fault him. The only ethical mishaps that could be drawn from this are he turned into a “Player” of some sorts. Instead of the guy who goes out to the bar and finds a different girl every night he simply used a computer and his knowledge of mathematics. It’s quite intriguing,

The data he gathered was as good as he could get. You have to hope for the women his bots surveyed were answering honestly because with everything on the internet it could be false. At the same time it could be considered quite cynical what he did. He took all these individuals and broke them down to a number.

Everything that makes them a person he took it, gave it a value, and plugged it back into a computer. It’s slightly unnerving when you think about it. Again though this shows how much society has changed and how someone who might not have the greatest social skills (Such as a mathematician) can still get dates and find someone to fall in love with. All in all it’s quite heartwarming.

Davies, M. (2007). Doing a successful research project: Using qualitative or quantitative methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


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