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A Mathematician Used His Skills To Hack A Dating Website And Managed To Find His Future Fiancee In Just 90 Days

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The online dating website OkCupid, first developed and launched back in 2004 by Harvard students, was hacked by the clever mathematician Christopher McKinlay. He did not do anything to cause harm to anyone including the website. He rather used a smart reverse-engineering algorithm to sort out the women who best matched his interests.

The story of McKinlay who has a PhD in mathematics is quite unique. One sunny day in the summer of 2013, while he was sitting in the computer lab waiting for a complex computation to finish, he decided to kill some time while browsing the OkCupid website. Basically OkCupid works with a math algorithm. When a person is registered he has to answer about 350 questions pulled from 3000. They can answer each question with predefined answer and rate how important is to the from 1 to 5. After he answered all his question he had less than 100 matches (and we are talking about a city with 2 million women and at least 80,000 of them on OkCupid). After trying talking to all his matches he went out to no more than 6 dates that didn’t turn out to be good ones.

The beginning:
McKinlay graduated Middlebury College with Chinese degree in 2001. After that he started working for a company located at the World Trade Center. A couple of weeks later the disaster struck the WTC. By the time the plane hit the towers he was off duty and at home sleeping. After 9/11 he started earning his cash from playing Black Jack. The next few years he spent travelling between LA and NY, counting cards and earning pretty good money (more than $60,000 a year).

The Black Jack triggered his interest in math and a little later earned masters and PhD degree in it.

The success:

It was then when it struck him, he was using it the wrong way. He decided to use his math and statistics skills to optimize his profile to the maximum.

Since the OkCuping matches people based on their answers to 350 questions with rated importance, McKinlay created a Phyton script that collected the data of nearly 20,000 female users. He also collected more than 6,000,000 matching answers of those users by using several dummy profiles. Based on the collected statistical data he discovered incredible patterns of the female users who matched his profile and therefore optimized it accordingly.

He then stored all the female answers and demographics into a database so he can analyse them better. After a little while the OkCupid system detected his bots and started to ban them one by one. That was the difficult part where he had to learn his scripts to act like a human beings. After realising he needed to simulate human behavior he turned to his friend and asked him to install a monitoring program on his computer so he can gather the click and answer activity. After doing so he managed to gather more than 6 million answers from 20,000 women.

Example generated data

McKinlay stored all the information into a database and modified an old script to analyse it. He then decided to give it a try to two general types of women. The first type was a teacher and the other was a designer in their mid twenties.

He created two profiles and answered all the questions honestly, because he didn’t want to build his future relationship on lies. He then ran his scripts and had success. The bad part was that there were so many women matching, because he couldn’t start conversation with every single one of them. That’s when he came up with an idea about another script who is going to visit their profiles (OkCupid had a notification on who visited your profile). He created the new script with given parameters – 1000 profile visited every single day.

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Soon after that his inbox started to get flooded with messages from attractive women living nearby his location. His profile showed 90% match rate with more than 30,000 local women. McKinlay started going out on a dates, but they didn’t turn out as he expected. It took him 88 dates to meet the love of his life.

On the 88th date he met Christine Tien Wang, a 28-year-old artist. They both fell in love at first sight and two weeks later they both deleted their online profiles, because they have found each other.

The conclusion:

Nowadays this is a common problem – not being able to find the love of your life. You just have to be creative and to think out of the box. If you are single we are pretty sure there is someone out there who is waiting for you!

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H/T – Source



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