Culture TED-Ed

A look at OKCupid’s algorithm: Getting personal with TED-Ed for Valentine’s Day

How, exactly, does online dating work? In this perfect-for-Valentine’s-Day TED-Ed lesson, OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder walks you through how the dating website does its matching — by using a carefully-honed algorithm to create a compatibility rating for two potential daters. In this fascinating video, Rudder shares how the site lets daters decide which factors are most important to them — and then crunches the numbers behind the scenes.

TED-Ed animator Franz Palomares jumped at the chance to animate this lesson — for a very specific reason. The TED-ED blog interviewed him to find out why.

We heard there was a special reason you wanted to work on this particular lesson. What was your inspiration?

The general inspiration was very personal. Seven years ago, I met my wife on a dating website! So I felt a great attachment to sharing this lesson.

Artistically, I had a lot of different inspirations. I knew immediately that I wanted to split it into two categories. One a very personal and human side, represented by hand-drawn characters — the match that is being made by the algorithm. And then a technical side, represented by the 3D words and the heart transitions. The hearts falling are based on the raining code from the Matrix. I thought it would be a fun way to indicate that the program was working.

That male character certainly looks familiar. How did you decide what the characters would look like in the animation?

Ha. The two characters that represent the users were easy. I knew from the moment I took on this lesson that I would work in some drawings of my wife and myself. From there, I decided I should include a character that looks like Christian to be the narrator.

Read the rest of the interview on the TED-Ed blog »