Matchmaking has never been a simple business, but when you add 16 years of data from a site that estimates has about 14 million unique visitors per month, there's endless opportunity for complexity.
About three years ago, the company decided to delve into that data to help improve its matches.
"We also take historical data into account, as well as distance — people in Dallas are more inclined to date someone far away than someone in Manhattan, who might not want to date someone who lives in Queens," Thombre said.
The site also looks at what people say they want in a partner and who they are actually pursuing on the site.
We have two sets — men and women, users and movies, buyers and products — and we want to find a way to appropriately match up members of the first set to members of the second set.
There is, of course, a glaring difference between dating and the other matchings — the "targets" being chosen are human beings, and they can choose whether or not to reply.
It brought on current VP of strategy analytics Amarnath Thombre to head up the charge.
Since then, he and a team of 12 have been hard at work developing an equation (well, hundreds of equations) for successful match recommendations. "It's easy to predict who likes The Godfather, but in this case, the Godfather has to like you back," Thombre says.
When you sign up for or pretty much any other dating site, you fill out a survey about yourself, your preferences and what you're looking for in a partner.This gives me a similarity score with other users — someone who, like me, has recently watched a lot of Star Trek on Netflix will have a high similarity score to me, whereas someone who exclusively watches romantic comedies from the 90s will have a very low similarity score to me.Next, to make recommendations to me, for each movie that I have not seen, the algorithm calculates a score based on how that movie was rated by people with high similarity scores to me."People have a check list of what they want, but if you look at who they are talking to, they break their own rules.They might list 'money' as an important quality in a partner, but then we see them messaging all the artists and guitar players," he said.