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Book Review: The Mathematics of Love

Can the optimal stopping theory help in a quest to find the perfect partner? Hannah Fry’s new book has some answers

Love math because math can help you find love: Mathematician Hannah Fry makes a compelling argument for why you should find thrill in numbers and formulae in The Mathematics of Love: Patterns, Proofs And The Search For The Ultimate Equation.

The idea for this book began with a TEDx Talk that Fry, professor at the University College London Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, gave in March 2014 at the Binghamton University, New York, US. In September, the ideas-exchange platform TED launched its books division to expand on select 18-minutes-or-less talks, and Fry’s address became a tome on the applications of geometric mean calculating a couple’s compatibility and the pay-off matrix to figure out if you should stay faithful or cheat on your partner, among other “elegant" equations for love.

The Mathematics Of Love—Patterns, Proofs And The Search For The Ultimate Equation: Simon &Schuster/TED Books, 116 pages, 350
The Mathematics Of Love—Patterns, Proofs And The Search For The Ultimate Equation: Simon &Schuster/TED Books, 116 pages, 350

The beautifully detailed illustrations also prevent any glazing over of the eyes while presumably reading this book. A night out in the big city, for example, is pictured with a man looking for love through a telescope from the rooftop; someone sitting alone on a bench outside “Nice Guys Café"; a large sign on a building proclaiming your “super CHANCE" to find love if you would just go out more.

To be sure, Fry cautions, matters of the heart can get complicated when people don’t know what they want or how to quantify it. For, the math can only be as good as the numbers you feed into it. That said, she is convinced the math can be a great tool to avoid sitting opposite a date who has as much charm as a houseplant or planning a disastrous wedding.

The Mathematics Of Love is a quick read, but you might find yourself thinking about the ideas it presents for a long time afterwards.

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