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Love Meeting New People?

Online dating algorithms 'make love more likely'

By Jane Maltby

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Online dating websites have a new trick it their virtual pocket, it would seem, drawing on the experience of years of developing systems to match single males and females for successful relationships.

The impact of internet development in areas such as ecommerce has been helpful for romantics as well as people who enjoy shopping online, as Technology Review reveals some of the procedures companies use to recommend books are similar to those of internet matching.

Finding a fabulous partner through online dating, whether for cinema nights or something more long term, is becoming increasingly well known, with 40 million US citizens already hooked on the technique and around 140 million Chinese equally clued up to the benefits.

But with so many single males and females surfing the net, finding an eligible individual could seem a little daunting.

Writing a great personal profile should seriously increase the chances of stumbling across Mr or Ms Right, as it is the first way singletons decide whether or not to send that all-important email.

On this basis, saying you're a huge football fan might seem like a good idea at the time, but ending up with someone who can recite all the members of the English football squad since 1946 could show up a few gaps in your knowledge.

And online dating has a few more tricks up its sleeve when it comes to getting single guys and girls talking, as experts have noted while people may say one thing when searching for a partner, in practice they might overlook some of their demands if an individual broadly fits the bill.

For example, for a stunning singleton who loves windsurfing and shares an interest in Chinese food, Britons may be able to overlook the fact the object of their affections is a smoker, or lives slightly further away than would be ideal.

The use of adaptive algorithms is the online dating answer to such unpredictable human behaviours, described as a "powerful tool" because "what people say they want and how they actually behave are different things".

This could mean an internet matching site is able, for example, to guess that a single woman will find an interest in modern literature irresistibly attractive, even if she forgot to mention it when filling out her online dating profile.

And such technological advances could mean UK singles spend less time completing questionnaires and more time tracking down The One, as knowledgeable computer boffins can develop systems that guess the answers to all-important questions.

Gavin Potter is chief technology officer of IntroAnalytics and an expert when it comes to developing software used by both online dating websites and ecommerce enterprises like Amazon.

Describing them as "recommendation engines", he says deciphering what single men and women want is more complicated than suggesting shoppers try an album similar to one they have already bought,

"The object you're recommending has got to be interested as well," says the specialist.

So, while many guys might find a woman who works as an investment banker attractive, it doesn't necessarily mean she will be interested in the whole bunch.

Some online dating websites have tried to work out how effective their matching tactics are, questioning those who have left the site about the success of their new relationship.

Unfortunately, once people are happily coupled up with someone met through online dating, they may feel a little too lazy to respond to surveys of this nature, so finding out how a marriage is five years down the line might prove a challenge.

The publication reports one contented couple, Nancy Kaup and Jon Anthony, were engaged within two months of meeting through online dating and are now expecting their first child.

Such whirlwind successes could be the happy outcome for many people using the popular approach, but the pair - who knew they were meant for each other from the first date - reveals their experiences were slightly different.

Ms Kaup had been a member of an online dating site for a number of months before an email from her perfect match pinged into her inbox, while Mr Anthony had only just joined the site and she was the first single woman he dated.

It just goes to show that luck, persistence and a little help from ever-improving computer programming could be a recipe for success.ADNFCR-2887-ID-800318869-ADNFCR