Press-Republican

FYI...

October 25, 2013

Love without an algorithm? One matchmaker proven wrong

WASHINGTON — When Aaron Schildkrout co-founded HowAboutWe.com, he envisioned it to be something very different than the other online dating sites, which relied on complex mathematical calculations to decide whether people were compatible.

On HowAboutWe, users suggest real-life dates that they would like to go on — seeing a movie at a local theater or taking a walk, for example — and interested users respond through the site's messaging system. "It's about getting offline, going to the real world and getting chemistry," Schildkrout said. "We branded ourselves as the offline dating site, as explicitly an alternative to these profile-heavy matching algorithm dating sites."

But since its founding in 2009, HowAboutWe has evolved to depend more on formulas, not less. "With hundreds of thousands of people we could show you, who we show you has become increasingly important," Schildkrout said. "To create a great experience, we need to get smarter about who we show you."

It's how most major dating sites work — processing large volumes of information about which two users are likely to show interest in each other, and tweaking the algorithms as more data on successes become available. But depending on the target demographic and the site's philosophy on what makes a good match, the methodologies vary widely.

HowAboutWe's two-person data science team, for instance, created an algorithm that combines a user's profile information, such as date ideas and demographics, with data about a person's behavior on the site, such as what profiles he or she looked at and how often.

Compared with casual daters on HowAboutWe, eHarmony believes its users are looking for something different: long-term relationships. As a result, people are required to fill out a personality questionnaire with hundreds of parts. Based on decades of data about thousands of happily married couples, eHarmony then predicts which users are likely to be compatible.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
FYI...
  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 22, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 21, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 19, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 17, 2014

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 16, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 297px-Starbucks_Corporation_Logo_2011.svg.png Why Starbucks won't recycle your paper coffee cup

    When you drop that used white paper cup into the bin next to the door at a Starbucks, have you done your part to save the planet? Starbucks has long hoped that you would think so. After all, there's no better way to attract an affluent, eco-conscious clientele than to convince customers that your disposable product is "renewable."

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo