Just under 4,500 Harvard undergraduates woke up on Valentine’s Day morning to a potentially fateful e-mail: their Datamatch results.
Datamatch, founded in 1994 by the Harvard Computer Society, is a digital matchmaking algorithm. This year’s survey asked students questions on everything from their roommates’ romantic lives to their first Wordle guesses in an attempt to match them with their soulmates, platonic or otherwise.
Katherine Y. Zhu ’23 and Melissa Kwan ’22 led the team of Datamatch’s administrators — known as Cupids — who have been working on the project since last spring.
Zhu said that the algorithm used to match undergraduates who take the survey is a well-kept secret among Datamatch’s team.
“The one thing that I can tell you is it is not random," she said. "Other than that, we will leave it a mystery and for the algo team to know.”
She added that Datamatch is an opportunity for students to meet other people and that she enjoyed hearing about successful matches.
“We really do bring people together and help people meet others that they never would have had an opportunity to otherwise,” Zhu said. “That reminds me every year that all the work that we do in the end is worth it, when we get to hear about all of the success stories that we get told.”
Under Kwan and Zhu, Datamatch developers created new design improvements, added the ability to report inappropriate users, and created a feature allowing students to list their “red flags” in dating and relationships.
“We’ve seen how people really buy into the idea of having these red flags, and they are sharing with their friends about it. That part is really both fun and rewarding for us to see,” Datamatch team member Jared Hu ’25 said.
Despite the new features, Zhu said the biggest difference from last year's survey, which occurred before Harvard fully reopened its campus, is the option for students to meet up with their matches in person.
“One of the biggest things is that we’re coming back from a pandemic,” Zhu said. “Everything was online last year, and I think a big part of Datamatch that was sadly missed last year is that for most of the people who were on campus, you couldn’t really have the opportunity to truly try to meet someone in person.”
Students who participated in the survey can take their top matches on Datamatch-funded dates at Playa Bowls, Ben & Jerry’s, Kung Fu Tea, or restaurants in Harvard Square.
Datamatch pays for the dates with sponsorships from the Undergraduate Council and outside organizations, such as Fizz, a startup founded by Harvard undergraduates, and Bubble.
“I think it’s really thoughtful of Datamatch to provide financial support for your top two matches,” Christina S. Gong ’25 said. “I really like free food, who doesn’t, but I’m also looking forward to just meeting someone new.”
— Staff Writer Darley A. C. Boit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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