There are always more fish in the sea. The once-comforting relationship advice has turned out to be a prophetic and overwhelming reality in the world of app and online dating. With ever-mounting numbers of profiles to look through and scrutinize for potential compatibility, one can start to feel stuck in a cycle of flirtation, failed first dates and constant repetition.
Hinge’s new feature, Most Compatible, aims to break that cycle by utilizing a Nobel Prize-winning algorithm to identify the matches you’re most likely to hit it off with and put one at the top of your Discover each day. The feature was released today for iOS and scheduled to be released for Android on July 17th.
“[With Most Compatible] we’re pairing you with someone,” said Hinge CEO Justin McLeod in an interview with TechCrunch. “So the person that you’re seeing is also seeing you, and this is the best pairing that we think that we can find [in our user base].”
To make these pairings, the app learns a user’s preferences through their liking and passing activity and uses that to pair them with a match whose preferences best align.
This method, called the Gale-Shapley algorithm, was designed in 1962 by mathematician and economists David Gale and Lloyd Shapley to answer a theoretical problem plaguing their fields: the stable marriage problem. While it may sound like something more suited to relationship counselors than mathematicians, the issue here is not infidelity or divorce, but combinatorics.
The ideal implementation of the Gale-Shapley algorithm works by optimally pairing people with partners they most prefer and ensuring that, in a large, even pool of single people, everyone can be matched.
For example, in a group evenly divided into men and women, the algorithm traditionally has individuals rank potential partners by level of preference and cycle through proposals and rejections until each individual is with the partner they prefer most (who isn’t already engaged).
There are some oversights in the original algorithm that Hinge worked through to make it applicable and useful for a modern love story.
The original stable marriage problem focuses on binary, heterosexual couples, and neglects relationships that don’t fit those standards. For these couples, Hinge uses a variation of the problem called the “stable roommate problem,” which groups individuals into a common pool and does away with gender divisions.
In early market tests of its Most Compatible feature, Hinge found that users were 8x more likely to go on dates (as signaled by an exchange of personal phone numbers) with matches found through Most Compatible than any other Hinge recommendations.
“This is a way for us to, essentially, go on all your bad dates for you, so that we can help figure out who you’ll end up with in the end,” said McLeod.
While it all seems a little too good to be true (or like the plot of the 2018 Netflix rom-com, My Perfect Romance or this episode of Black Mirror), this move comes after a successful streak for Hinge. The app saw nearly 400 percent user base growth following its redesign in 2016 and a recent 51 percent stock acquisition by Match group this June.
Hinge says that it’s not looking to take the choice or discovery out of the app, but just to make the path to a lasting relationship as easy as possible.