The problem with dating

August 28th, 2009 by ftobia

I don’t mean that dating has anything wrong with it. I am thinking: How would you reduce dating down to a solvable problem? The problem itself would probably be very hard. Like you would need dynamic programming to solve it, or it wouldn’t have a closed-form solution or something.

Here’s how I would frame The Dating Problem: You are trying to find your optimal match given a set of constraints. The constraints include imperfect information, finite time, some restrictions on preferences, etc. But the imperfect information constraint is very broad. Not only is it costly to determine information about a significant other, but it is also costly to determine your own preferences.

Let’s pin things down a bit more. Imagine a game with an open-ended number of rounds. Each round is a pairing between you and someone you’re dating (ignore how you might actually find such possible significant others for now). You are trying to 1) see if they are a good (best) fit for you, and 2) you are also trying to define your preferences regarding what would make for a best fit.

That is crazy.

I think the best strategy is where, early in the game, most of your matching is geared towards determining your preferences. Then in the later stage, your rounds become shorter, since you only need to make sure you have a good (best) match. I guess the downside is you could erroneously break up with someone in one of the early stages who you would have  been better off with. But given the constraints, it’s not like you could have known, right?

And no one ever said local optima are necessarily global optima.

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One Response to “The problem with dating”

  1. Aiki Says:

    Hello ftobia,

    You bring up some good points and (especially) questions in your posts. Slavery is an especially tough nut to crack. Given your interests you might enjoy Eric D. Beinhocker’s “The Origin of Wealth”. Good luck with the Princeton application.


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