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The matchmaking software gathers 600 data points for each user, including how often they log in, who they search for, and what characteristics are shared by the people they actually contact.

For all these companies, one major hurdle stands in the way of improving the algorithms: measuring success.

It’s hard to know whether members find love after they take their interaction off the site.

Some people say they’re looking for a nonsmoker, for instance, but in practice they’ll date a smoker who fits their other criteria.

Since then, he has developed and implemented a new layer of predictive matching algorithms that are based on Yahoo’s system for targeting advertising to specific users who have revealed preferences and behaviors over time.

To figure out rates of success, OKCupid is currently analyzing online messages for 10-digit strings of numbers, figuring that exchanging phone numbers is a sign of success.

Meanwhile, e Harmony is conducting a longitudinal study to follow a cohort of couples through five years of marriage, to see if those matched on e Harmony are truly more compatible.

These kinds of approaches are different from what was used before.