A reading club with a view to the future

082 Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love

Applying mathematical models and theories to understand the complexities of love, dating, and relationships.

Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love


In "The Mathematics of Love," mathematician and complexity scientist Hannah Fry explores the ways in which mathematical models can help us understand the complex world of love and relationships. Through examining topics such as online dating, choosing a partner, and the dynamics of long-term relationships, Fry explains how mathematics can be used to predict patterns and behaviors, and ultimately help us make more informed decisions about our love lives.


Title: The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs, and the Search for the Ultimate Equation

Author: Hannah Fry

Publishing Year: 2015

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Length in Hours: 2 hours and 21 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Mathematical models can help us understand and predict patterns in dating and relationships.
  2. The mathematics of attraction and choosing a partner involve both conscious and unconscious factors.
  3. Online dating has revolutionized the dating landscape, but algorithms have limitations.
  4. Long-term relationships are shaped by a variety of factors, including communication, conflict resolution, and individual growth.
  5. The search for a "perfect" equation to solve the mysteries of love is ultimately elusive, but the use of mathematical principles can still provide valuable insights.
Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love

5 funny quotes

  1. "Love is not an exact science, it's an eternal mystery."
  2. "Mathematics and sex may seem strange bedfellows, but in fact they share an intimate bond."
  3. "It's not who you love, it's how you love them."
  4. "Just as you can't predict the weather with certainty, you can't predict whether or not someone will fall in love with you."
  5. "Love isn't just about finding the perfect match, it's about finding someone who accepts your imperfections."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Mathematics can help us to quantify what we're already feeling and to make better decisions."
  2. "There is no such thing as a perfect match. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep looking."
  3. "When it comes to online dating, everything is superficial, and you're only as good as your worst photo."
  4. "Familiarity breeds contentment, not contempt."
  5. "While we can learn about the patterns and probabilities, ultimately love is still a mystery."

5 dilemmas

  1. How much choice is too much when it comes to online dating?
  2. When should you trust your instincts versus relying on mathematical models?
  3. Can love be reduced to a mathematical equation?
  4. Is it possible to use mathematics to predict and prevent divorce?
  5. How much weight should we give to physical attraction versus personality traits when seeking a romantic partner?

5 examples

  1. John Gottman's "Love Lab" studies on how couples interact and how it predicts the longevity of their relationship.
  2. OKCupid's experiments on how photos and profiles affect online dating outcomes.
  3. The mathematical models of Ted Huston, which predicted which newlyweds would stay together and which would divorce.
  4. The story of mathematician Paul Erdős, who claimed that love was the most important discovery in mathematics.
  5. The history of the "36 questions" experiment, which tests whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by answering a series of questions.

Referenced books

  1. "The Science of Relationships: Answers to Your Questions about Dating, Marriage, and Family" by Gary Lewandowski Jr., Timothy J. Loving, and Benjamin Le
  2. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  3. "Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)" by Christian Rudder
  4. "The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity" by Steven Strogatz
  5. "The Mathematics of Life" by Ian Stewart

Share a quote

"Love isn't just about finding the perfect match, it's about finding someone who accepts your imperfections."

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