A Mathematical Solution to Choosing the Right Spouse?

I’ve always been a fan of how math and science can be applied to romance (see related articles here). So when a friend linked me to Krulwich’s article “How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution” on NPR, I was immediately intrigued. To summarize, Krulwich describes a dilemma in which Johannes Kepler is troubled with choosing the right wife among eleven potential mates. For the best decision-making process, Krulwich introduces ‘The Marriage Problem’ solution as explained by Alex Bellos.

The Rules

Here are the rules of the game. You have a finite number of choices. Each mate is evaluated sequentially one by one. Once you pass on a mate you cannot go back to that person. Once you’ve made an offer, the game ends. While this is a simple example of an optimal stop model, (i.e. it’s missing transaction costs for each evaluation), the results are interesting nonetheless.

The Strategy

The strategy that Krulwich highlights is relatively easy. Pass on the first 36.8% of potential mates. Next, when you meet a potential mate that’s better than ones in the first group, propose marriage. Note that you may run into a problem if the best potential mate was in the first group. Krulwich says if that happens you will at least get the second best pick (but that is untrue). Think about it, you will keep passing on people until you reach the nth potential mate in your queue. The nth mate may be riddled with character flaws or hideous (to you at least– everyone’s beautiful to someone, right?) Right. Anyhoo, what is true is you will indeed optimize your decision-making.

A Simulation

I decided to simulate the model for myself to determine the probability of outcomes. I ran the simulation for 1000 trials. The probability of landing at least an 8 hovers near 71.8% with a median score of 9.75 (see histogram above). Feel free to review or enhance my code here (myGithub).

A few caveats to my model (pardon any technical jargon): First, I used a random uniform distribution when in reality a lognormal curve would be a better fit. Thus I imagine a more precise estimated median will be closer to an 8. Second, I used the strategy described in the NPR article and didn’t go into the nuances for a complex optimal stop. The model also assumes attraction levels and other ranked traits stay constant (obviously not ideal assumptions). Finally, realize that this model illustrates optimal choice and not optimal outcome as there is a bit of game theory involved when you figure the preferences of whom you’ve chosen.


How about other applications to this model? Should you accept the first offer on your home? B-School? Job? Figure out the average amount of offers for your specified timescale and you’re on your way to optimized decision-making.


Speed-Watching: Download information straight to your brain (Matrix-style)


Remember the movie Matrix where Trinity instantly learned how to fly a helicopter by downloading the program straight to her brain? While we’re not there yet (see perceptual learning via neurofeedback), it is possible to learn things in half the time by listening to lectures at double speed. I call it speed-watching.

If you’ve ever taken a class on Coursera, you’ve likely noticed the +/- buttons that allow you to do this. If you feel overwhelmed by 2x speeds, watch a lecture at 2x for one minute and then reduce to 1.75x. Sooner or later your brain will adjust to faster speeds and you’ll be blazing through lectures in no time. In fact, 2x will even start to feel slow at times.

I also ‘speed-watch’ my news, recipe videos, and topics on Khan Academy. The only time I don’t speed-watch is if I’m listening to music videos or learning a language. To access this speed feature in YouTube, you will need to enable HTML5. Do it here: https://www.youtube.com/html5.

Beyond saving time, speed-watching also keeps your mind engaged, thereby increasing comprehension. Lack of engagement is why many in classrooms let their minds wander, doodle, or catch up on email. Now that education can be customized to ‘your’ learning curve, what will education be like in the future?

If you can see the bigger picture, you recognize that we are at the verge of exciting times. 

For those interested in accelerated learning, here’s a link that compiles a few resources to help your endeavor: http://nahyaninc.com/blog/accelerated-learning-level-1/


The Incredible Non-Edible Magnificent Pig


Several world religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam discourage followers from eating pork. Though none of the Holy Books offer a reason, that fact hasn’t stopped pundits from developing their own. The most common rationale that is given is pigs are “filthy creatures”. Along similar lines, some have mentioned that the meat is difficult to rid of parasites when cooked. Others even go as far as saying the technology to cook the meat properly wasn’t available back then; so eating pork is now justified. 


Why do pigs get such a bad rep? Are pigs really that filthy?

The short answer is no. It doesn’t help when negative stereotypes perpetuated through idiomatic speech such as “filthy as a pigsty” are ingrained into our culture.  Derogatory phrases referencing pigs aren’t limited to English either: cochino sucio (“filthy pig” in Spanish) or 懒猪 (“lazy pig” in Mandarin).

No matter your spiritual belief, I hope to dispel some of these myths and reeducate you on the incredible non-edible magnificent pig. I’ll do this by showing you that pigs are clean, intelligent, and similar to humans in many compelling ways. So if you choose to abstain from pork, do so for humane reasons, not because of mistruths. Continue reading

Ten Things Every Young Person Should Know


I originally created this list to share with family but thought you could benefit too. Our younger years are often filled with extreme highs and lows and the aim of this list is help reset you for a happy and mature life. So here it goes:

  1. Not everyone will like you. And that is okay.
  2. As long as one person loves you, you will be okay.
  3. Learn to love yourself first (but don’t get carried away).
  4. You can make yourself happy just by smiling. This notion is grounded in science; we smile because we are happy and we are happy because we smile. So smile.
  5. How you see yourself is different from how others see you. Be aware.
  6. People who hate will always hate. No matter what. Trying to win them over is pointless. Figure ways around them.
  7. However, people who are objectively critical of you see potential in you, and are genuinely trying to help. Learn the difference.
  8. Don’t assume people will have your back until they prove they actually do; assuming so will lead to disappointment.
  9. How you choose to encode your memories (positively or negatively) is entirely up to you. Prefer the positive route.
  10. The smartest people in the room are smart not because they have the right answers, but because they know how to ask the right questions. Recognizing your stupidity is the first step towards wisdom.
  11. There are more than ten things that you should know.