I only know how to go too far

A Recipe for Finding True Love

Mathematics finally pays off

Hey, Love Bird!  You!  I’m talking to you, Love Bird!  When your lady whispers into your ear that you’re the one she’s dreaming of and that your heart fits her like a glove, she is undoubtedly confessing to you that she’s found her true love in you.  And by definition that means you two are destined to be soul mates and to live happily ever after, perfectly matched like Prince Charming and Snow White.  The two of you are so blessed that you’ve overcome the incredible odds of locating and then consummating with the one and only person in the entire Universe who’s been hand picked by Aphrodite the Goddess of Love herself to be your soul mate, your true love.  Life is good.

But of course that’s a load of crap!  You probably can’t even say with reasonable certainty that the chick you are with right now is better for you than any other women that live within a 10-block radius from your home let alone the entire Universe!  Hey, Love Bird, let’s not even discuss whether you’re the best man for her.  You know the answer to that one.  In order for you to be sure that the person you end up with is really your true love, your one and only, you would have to have had a relationship with every other person for comparison.  And that is clearly a prohibitively non-scalable problem to solve, given the finite resources a normal human being has, along with traditional societal restraints…

But fear not, Love Bird!  Armed with a basic understanding of probability theory and elementary calculus, you too can find true love.  Or should I say… you too can maximize your chances at finding your effective true love or ETL.  How?  Behold the powers of mathematics!  Who would have thought that one of the fifty challenging problems in probability can provide the recipe for finding your ETL?  Here is the problem stated in its original form.

#47. Choosing the Largest Dowry The king, to test a candidate for the position of wise man, offers him a chance to marry the young lady in the court with the largest dowry.  The amounts of the dowries are written on slips of paper and mixed.  A slip is drawn at random and the wise man must decide whether that is the largest dowry or not.  If he decides it is, he gets the lady and her dowry if he is correct; otherwise he gets nothing.  If he decides against the amount written on the first slip, he must choose or refuse the next slip, and so on until he chooses one or else the slips are exhausted.  In all, 100 attractive young ladies participate, each with a different dowry.  How should the wise man make his decision?  [**]

For those nerds who would rather attempt to solve the above problem, stop reading now and heed my spoiler alert!  Otherwise, read on!

Spoiler alert!

Obviously you can’t date everybody in the Universe and see who’s the best.  I know you would but you couldn’t.  Realistically and statistically a normal human being in the civilized world has only about 15 years of mating window to snare a life partner.  Suppose it takes you an average of 12 months to figure out whether she’s worth it or not (one-night stands and those you pay money for don’t count okay?), that yields a sampling size of 15 in your lifetime.  Fifteen serious relationships is quite a lot, my friend.  For those who’s handsome and charming and can multi-task like myself, the sampling size or mating pool size may be larger.  For those who usually wait a long time before the fish take the bait, the subset of the mating Universe is naturally smaller.  Whatever the case may be, you need to estimate your sampling size.  Once you have that number in mind, then your objective now is to find the best one among this subset of the Universe.  That person is your effective true love or ETL.  Fine, she may not be the best in the Universe.  But she’s the best in your Universe.  Tell her that.  She won’t care about the difference if she loves you.  Hence the term effective!  Of course you cannot score your entire subset and then pick out the best person and go back to her.  (Does the phrase “the one that got away” ring any bell to you losers out there?)  Once you say adiós, she’s off the radar and will no longer be available (probably because she hates you or you hate her or both).  So you have to determine whether the person you’re “sampling” (statistically speaking) at the moment is the best of the lot or not.  Once you commit, she’s either the one or she’s not.  Don’t you see?  The problem of finding your ETL is isomorphic to the problem of finding the largest dowry!

Final spoiler alert!

So you say, give me the damn recipe already!  Sure!  If you are smart like me, your intuition would tell you to never take the first woman as your ETL, because the probability that she’s the best of the lot is only 1/N, where N is your mating pool size.  We’re talking about true love here, pal!  Are you really gonna meet your true love on your first… date…  ever?  Most normal people would date a few more different people before they “settle down” and that is in fact the right strategy.  This strategy becomes optimal when you figure out when to start “settling down”.  If you are smart like me, your mathematics will tell you that for large N the optimal point to start settling down is N/e where N is the aforementioned mating pool size and e is the base of the natural logarithm (aka 2.718281828).  In fact, for large N, the probability that this “settling down” strategy will yield true love is 1/e which is like 37%.  That’s incredibly high for finding true love!  (To dim wits, as N approaches infinity, effective true love becomes true love!)

The recipe of finding your effective true love is now clear.

  1. Decide your mating pool size
  2. Date, score, and dump the first N/e girls or guys whichever the case may be (it’s important that you do this part sincerely to get accurate scores and also to avoid getting killed)
  3. Continue dating until you score a person that has higher score than anybody preceding
  4. Once you find that highest scorer, marry her and live happily ever after (oh, you probably should stop statistically sampling more girls at this point)

Of course there are always those party poopers out there who complain what if the highest scorer happened before N/e was reached?  Well, then I say to you, it’s just not meant to be, losers!  😀

One response

  1. Pingback: Teleportation Equals Cloning Equals Death to True Love « The Standard Model

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