How I met your mother, the statistician version

professor_ted_mosbyKids, it was long ago during my bachelor’s times.

I’d just graduated and I knew that, as a statistician, my chances with girls weren’t the best. Anyway, I was bold enough to guess that I would be able to date ten girls that would take me as a husband. My problem was to decide, which of these ten would be “the one”.

If I just got married to the first girl, probably one of the other nine would have been a better choice for me. If I waited till the last one to be able to compare all of them, I wouldn’t get a second chance with any of the earlier nine girls.

But I had a degree in mathematics, it should do me some good.

I knew that after each date, I would be able to rank the girl in comparison to all the others that I dated before. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about the next girls, who I could still date in the future.

It was a classical mathematical problem: the best solution is well known from the Optimal Stopping theory. I had only to discard the first 10/e girls and, then, to get married to the first one who were ranked better than any of my earlier dates. (e – you know – is the base of the natural logarithms, ~2.718.)

Then, that was exactly what I did. I decided to never call again any of the first 10/e, that is about 4 dates.

I confess that it was quite hard to resist girl number two. But I knew, math was working for me. I didn’t call her again. As I also didn’t call girls number three and four.

In the next summer, I was only stress. I knew that now that the game was afoot: any of my next dates could be my companion for life!

Girl number five was disappointing. Number six was OK, but not better than my number two. (Damn! I still missed her.)

Then, in the winter, I dated girl number seven.

Kids, she was amazing! Beautiful, intelligent, funny. Also a mathematician! I had no doubt: she scored higher than any of previous six (maybe even higher than number two).

I proposed and, for my delight, she accepted. We got married in the next summer.

This was how I met your mother.

Why does she live with that other guy today?

Well … It turns out to be that I was still her number five.

MB

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Categories: Culture, Fiction, Scientific Culture

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  1. Statistics are glasses for gut feelings | Much Bigger Outside

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