How Data Becomes Love On eHarmony

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eHarmony's matching system is one of the most famous in the world. It's an intricate scheme that turns cupid's work into scientific and mathematical formulas by coordinating streams of data to match users with the greatest chance of romantic compatibility. And if that technological genius isn't enough to impress you on its own, it's also turned eHarmony into a very profitable business.

Nearly 33 million users across 150 countries have turned to eHarmony to find love. It's the site's unique approach to matching that draws them in, a system that's so good it's been patented by the company.

It all starts with 200-question questionnaire that's required upon sign up. New members answer questions on everything from their characteristics, to their habits, to their values. When the questionnaire is complete, the responses are run through the site's patented algorithm and turned into match suggestions.

It may not sound particularly romantic, but with 542 people married every day in the US after meeting on the site, eHarmony is clearly doing something right.

"We are different than anybody else," eHarmony managing director Jason Chuck told ZDNet. "We have this huge computational challenge over traditional photo-browsing dating sites. Just that matching system alone puts a lot of pressure on the whole system." Chuck estimates that eHarmony has "terabytes of data" stored in an internal data warehouse in the States.

Beyond the questionnaire, eHarmony also mines data from its users' activity. User behavior like number of photos posted and number of words used in the personal description is used to predict a user's success on the site.

"From that data," Chuck explains, "you can tell who is more introverted, who is likely to be an initiator, and we can also see if we give people matches at certain times of the day, they would be more likely to make communication with their matches."

Even more tools are added on top of that to form a matching process that is almost completely automated. eHarmony can generate matches for a user in just minutes, though it may take longer for some individuals.

eHarmony's matching team - made up largely of technology engineers and data analytics experts - has built an algorithm so precise that it varies from country to country. The algorithm is regularly updated based on eHarmony's user behavior and new relationship research from educational institutions to create one of the most complete matching systems on the Web.

To find out more about this dating service, please go ahead and read our review.