An equation that goes looking for love in all the optimal places

Thursday, 6 October, 2011

We know money can’t buy love, but can an equation help you find it… or are some things best left to chance?

Despite these handicaps, if you know how many candidates there are, there is a simple rule to maximize the chance of finding the best mate: sample the first K candidates without selecting any of them, and then take the first subsequent candidate who is the best of all you have seen. K depends on N, the total number of candidates you will see. As N gets big, K moves toward 1/e times N, where e is 2.71… So sample 36.9% of the candidates, then take the first candidate who is the best you have seen. This gives a 36.9% chance of ending up with Ms (in my case) Right.

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