‘Marriage Pact’ pairs students off using Nobel Prize algorithm

Dec. 1, 2017, 1:25 a.m.

Is there still room for romance in the heart of fast-paced Silicon Valley? A campus-wide questionnaire developed for an economics class attempts to “insure [students] against marital disaster” by pairing each respondent up with a fellow student who meets their basic criteria for a spouse.

'Marriage Pact' pairs students off using Nobel Prize algorithm
A MemChu wedding (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Whether Stanford students are not as averse to dating as often postulated or are simply procrastinating the week nine workload, the survey has proven popular amongst undergraduates, with over 3,400 students submitting responses within the first 4 days.

The survey was designed by Liam McGregor ’20 and Sophia Sterling-Angus ’19 as their final project for Econ 136: “Market Design.” The assignment required students to describe and analyze a real-world market design or allocation problem. The Nobel Prize algorithm that will determine matches is based on is the Deferred Acceptance Algorithm, developed in part by Stanford Professor Alvin Roth, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics.  

This algorithm gives a solution to the “stable marriage problem”, which is defined as:

Given n men and n women, where each person has ranked all members of the opposite sex in order of preference, marry the men and women together such that there are no two people of opposite sex who would both rather have each other than their current partners. When there are no such pairs of people, the set of marriages is deemed stable.”

When asked what inspired the project, Sterling-Angus said, “[I have] a deep-seated desire to be invited to as many weddings as possible.”

The first questions of the survey concern gender identity, sexual orientation, and ethnicity. In line with its objective of matching students with “someone who covers [their] non-negotiables,” the survey also asks users if it is necessary for their significant other to have the same views as them on a slew of  issues and lifestyle choices. Respondents are asked to specify their religious and political affiliation, preferred future lifestyle – including pets, places to live, priority on career or social life, number of kids and child-rearing style. Questions range from the funny (“Feeling on Dad jokes?”) to the political (“Abortion should always be legal?”).

The response from students who spoke to The Daily was largely positive – most students treated the survey as a distraction and did not intend to take the results seriously.

Above all, many students wanted to reach out to the person they were matched with.

“Heck yeah!” said Eric Wang ’20, when asked if he would contact his match. “Not with the intent of marrying them as a backup plan though.”

Some students, however, were more vocal about their skepticism.

“The questions are probably as good as they could get,”said Hayk Tepanyan ’18. “Will they help one find [one’s] spouse? Most likely not.”

Others thought that the questions were a little too political and utilitarian.

“I think political alignment and stuff like how many pets and kids you might want is important, but common interests and perspectives are more deciding,” said Eric Zelikman ’20.

Will the survey contribute to the nearly 20 percent of Stanford graduates that end up marrying each other? Will you and your Stanford Marriage Pact match be wearing “Stanford mom” and “Stanford dad” t-shirts in 30 years? Does this question make you cringe, but you still want to ensure you get your green card? The online survey form is open through Friday.

The matching results will be sent out over the weekend.


Contact Theodora Boulouta at boulouta ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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