Can Math Help You Find Mr. or Miss Right?

Are they really right for you? Don't leave it to your heart to decide... let the math do the judging! Here are three mathematical theories to help determine if your marriage will last (or if it should happen at all).

1. The Mathematics of Marriage

In their book, The Mathematics of Marriage, mathematician James D. Murray and psychologist John Gottman describe their use of calculus to study interactions between couples. Using a model Gottman developed in 1979, the pair surveyed 700 newly married couples in King County, Washington in 1992. They analyzed couples' 15 minute conversations using a scoring system that assigned a number based on each statement, expression, and even pulse rates. Then they model quantified the ratio of positive to negative interactions during the talk. The magic ratio was 5:1. When the ratio falls below this, a relationship may be in trouble.

These numbers were plotted as a function of time and were used to make predictions as to whether the couple would i) divorce, or ii) stay married a) happily, or b) unhappily. They called this the "Dow Jones for Marital Conversation." Every 1-2 years until 2004 the couples were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing their marriage. The predictions on which couples would get divorced was 94% accurate, and typically divorce occurred after 4 years.

2. The 37% Rule

In 1997, Dr. Peter Todd of the Max Planck Institute in Munich described his 37% rule, also known as the secretary rule. Imagine if you have to fill 1 secretarial position and have n # of applicants, ranked from best to worst. Now, here's where the math gets hairy. Assuming you skip the worst ones (n/e of the applicants where e is the base of the natural logarithm), and you only interview applicants who are better than those you have already interviewed (n/e + 1 is better than all previous n/e interviews), the probability of selecting the best applicant from the pool rounds to 1/e, or around 37%. Hence, you should be able to pick the best secretary after interviewing 37% of the applicants.

If there are about 100 potential "mates" you don't have to date 37 people to finally meet Mr. Right, #37. Instead, Dr. Todd advises you set your "aspiration level," what you are looking for in a partner, to a range. Then date only those who are in the top 25% of that range. Your sample size, therefore, is reduced to only 10 dates. One of those should make the cut.

3. The "What are the Chances My Marriage Will Last?" Equation

Picture 66.pngGarth Sundem, author of GeekLogic created his own equations to determine: 1. What are the Chances My Marriage Will Last? 2. Should We Get Married? and 3. How Many Kids Should we Have?The "What are the Chances my Marriage Will Last?" is based on an 11,000 person study by the CDC that explored factors that help and hurt a marriage's chances of working. Here's the equation:

where"¨ A= Her age at time of marriage

E=Current combined years of post-high-school education

K= Number of kids from this marriage

R= How religious is the couple (1-10 with 10 being "the Pope")

D= Combined number of divorces of couple's parents

P= Combined previous marriages

T= Years at which you are computing the chances

H.E.A. = % chance of Happily Ever After
But don't worry about calculating it out yourself. Over at Political Calculations, you can type in your personal data and it spits out the probability you and your partner will still be married at a given year of anniversary.

Zach Hyman, HBO
10 Bizarre Sesame Street Fan Theories
Zach Hyman, HBO
Zach Hyman, HBO

Sesame Street has been on the air for almost 50 years, but there’s still so much we don’t know about this beloved children’s show. What kind of bird is Big Bird? What’s the deal with Mr. Noodle? And how do you actually get to Sesame Street? Fans have filled in these gaps with frequently amusing—and sometimes bizarre—theories about how the cheerful neighborhood ticks. Read them at your own risk, because they’ll probably ruin the Count for you.


According to a Reddit theory, the Sesame Street theme song isn’t just catchy—it’s code. The lyrics spell out how to get to Sesame Street quite literally, giving listeners clues on how to access this fantasy land. It must be a sunny day (as the repeated line goes), you must bring a broom (“sweeping the clouds away”), and you have to give Oscar the Grouch the password (“everything’s a-ok”) to gain entrance. Make sure to memorize all the steps before you attempt.


Sesame Street is populated with the stuff of nightmares. There’s a gigantic bird, a mean green guy who hides in the trash, and an actual vampire. These things should be scary, and some fans contend that they used to be. But then the creatures moved to Sesame Street, a rehabilitation area for formerly frightening monsters. In this community, monsters can’t roam outside the perimeters (“neighborhood”) as they recover. They must learn to educate children instead of eating them—and find a more harmless snack to fuel their hunger. Hence Cookie Monster’s fixation with baked goods.


Big Bird is a rare breed. He’s eight feet tall and while he can’t really fly, he can rollerskate. So what kind of bird is he? Big Bird’s species has been a matter of contention since Sesame Street began: Big Bird insists he’s a lark, while Oscar thinks he’s more of a homing pigeon. But there’s convincing evidence that Big Bird is an extinct moa. The moa were 10 species of flightless birds who lived in New Zealand. They had long necks and stout torsos, and reached up to 12 feet in height. Scientists claim they died off hundreds of years ago, but could one be living on Sesame Street? It makes sense, especially considering his best friend looks a lot like a woolly mammoth.


Oscar’s home doesn’t seem very big. But as The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland revealed, his trash can holds much more than moldy banana peels. The Grouch has chandeliers and even an interdimensional portal down there! There’s only one logical explanation for this outrageously spacious trash can: It’s a Doctor Who-style TARDIS.


Dust off your copy of The Republic, because this is about to get philosophical. Plato has a famous allegory about a cave, one that explains enlightenment through actual sunlight. He describes a prisoner who steps out of the cave and into the sun, realizing his entire understanding of the world is wrong. When he returns to the cave to educate his fellow prisoners, they don’t believe him, because the information is too overwhelming and contradictory to what they know. The lesson is that education is a gradual learning process, one where pupils must move through the cave themselves, putting pieces together along the way. And what better guide is there than a merry kids’ show?

According to one Reddit theory, Sesame Street builds on Plato’s teachings by presenting a utopia where all kinds of creatures live together in harmony. There’s no racism or suffocating gender roles, just another sunny (see what they did there?) day in the neighborhood. Sesame Street shows the audience what an enlightened society looks like through simple songs and silly jokes, spoon-feeding Plato’s “cave dwellers” knowledge at an early age.


Can a grown man really enjoy taking orders from a squeaky red puppet? And why does Mr. Noodle live outside a window in Elmo’s house anyway? According to this hilariously bleak theory, no, Mr. Noodle does not like dancing for Elmo, but he has to, because he’s in hell. Think about it: He’s seemingly trapped in a surreal place where he can’t talk, but he has to do whatever a fuzzy monster named Elmo says. Definitely sounds like hell.


Okay, so remember when Animal chases a shrieking woman out of the college auditorium in The Muppets Take Manhattan? (If you don't, see above.) One fan thinks Animal had a fling with this lady, which produced Elmo. While the two might have similar coloring, this theory completely ignores Elmo’s dad Louie, who appears in many Sesame Street episodes. But maybe Animal is a distant cousin.


Cookie Monster loves to cram chocolate chip treats into his mouth. But as eagle-eyed viewers have observed, he doesn’t really eat the cookies so much as chew them into messy crumbs that fly in every direction. This could indicate Cookie Monster has a chewing and spitting eating disorder, meaning he doesn’t actually consume food—he just chews and spits it out. There’s a more detailed (and dark) diagnosis of Cookie Monster’s symptoms here.


Can a vampire really get his kicks from counting to five? One of the craziest Sesame Street fan theories posits that the Count lures kids to their death with his number games. That’s why the cast of children on Sesame Street changes so frequently—the Count eats them all after teaching them to add. The adult cast, meanwhile, stays pretty much the same, implying the grown-ups are either under a vampiric spell or looking the other way as the Count does his thing.


Alright, this is just a Dave Chappelle joke. But the Count does have a cape.

A New App Interprets Sign Language for the Amazon Echo

The convenience of the Amazon Echo smart speaker only goes so far. Without any sort of visual interface, the voice-activated home assistant isn't very useful for deaf people—Alexa only understands three languages, none of which are American Sign Language. But Fast Company reports that one programmer has invented an ingenious system that allows the Echo to communicate visually.

Abhishek Singh's new artificial intelligence app acts as an interpreter between deaf people and Alexa. For it to work, users must sign at a web cam that's connected to a computer. The app translates the ASL signs from the webcam into text and reads it aloud for Alexa to hear. When Alexa talks back, the app generates a text version of the response for the user to read.

Singh had to teach his system ASL himself by signing various words at his web cam repeatedly. Working within the machine-learning platform Tensorflow, the AI program eventually collected enough data to recognize the meaning of certain gestures automatically.

While Amazon does have two smart home devices with screens—the Echo Show and Echo Spot—for now, Singh's app is one of the best options out there for signers using voice assistants that don't have visual components. He plans to make the code open-source and share his full methodology in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Watch his demo in the video below.

[h/t Fast Company]


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