Equation tells you when to pop the question

Written by: Captain Skellett // March 1st, 2010 // Just for Fun, Recent Research

Okay, so this is just cool. Statisticians from the University of New South Wales have made an equation that tells you the optimum age to propose.

It isn’t the first time people have made love equations…

Love Equation

The difference is this one actually comes up with some answers and uses numbers. In fact it’s pretty complicated. Luckily it’s also incredibly simple to use. Here’s how.

Take the minimum age you’d want to get married and call it p (for me, 21)
Take the maximum age you’d want to get married and call it n (for me, 30. Ideally.)
Subtract p from n (30 – 21) and times by *the magic number* 0.368. I got 3.312.
Add that to your starting age and you’ve got your optimum age.

That means to optimise your chances of bagging a good one, you should NOT propose to anyone before your optimum age. After that age, you should propose to the person who is better than anyone you’ve seen yet. There’s a 37% chance that person will be the best.

For me that’s 24 and 4 months. Oh god. That’s my age right now.

Granted, they made the equation mostly for funzies. So I’m not going to start freaking out and taking the initiative or anything. Still, funzies it definitely is. On the other hand if you’re looking for something lower brow then try this on. Cheesy!

A pdf of the press release and equation is here, along with the tricky maths stuff. This method is called “optimal stopping” is also used in the secretary problem, which is a method you can use to find the best applicant for a job.

Disclaimers to my loved ones who regularly read: SexyMan, this isn’t a hint! Mum, no, there’s nothing I’m not telling you.

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google


14 Responses to “Equation tells you when to pop the question”

  1. gem says:

    what if there isnt a maximum age you want to get married? for example, i picked 24, and then i randomly picked 80, because i figure thats about the length of my life, and it calculates that i shouldnt get married till im 44!
    oh dear god! should i have made a time line up by now?? or plans! what about children?? will i have to have them alone??

    Come on dear friend, would you REALLY get married for the first time at 80? Sounds like you’re not terribly fussed about marriage, and in that case why would you worry if it doesn’t happen til’ yer 44? I be sure you’ll find a way to have kids if you’re keen on the idea 🙂

  2. gem says:

    what if i was 80 before anyone asked me?

    Ask them first! Gooooooo feminism! (That’s pronounced go, not goo. Very different meanings)

  3. J-bone says:

    This is my favorite maths of all time.


    roflmao, love it J-bone. Never has calculus and integration signs been sexier!

    J-bone Reply:

    More here (some will seem in poor taste to your feminist readers)


    @J-bone Cheers for the link, love it. ‘Tis particularly special to me as a student. There are some classics in there that might be useful for my stats report *shudder*

  4. James says:

    Hey Captn,
    Thomas and I wrote up something similar before that you probably saw. I love it when smarty pants maths people do smarty pants math.

  5. SexyMan says:

    Well Unfortunately even with your loved ones Disclaimers I have to admit that I now feel a little pressured into this whole tying the knot thing.

    But if we are going by these boffins calculations the University of New South Wales and Goo feminism (that’s how I read it) isn’t at play, the question wont come up until at least the start of 2012.

    How does that fit in to your 10 year plan?

    Ye have me speechless SexyMan. That be a rare thing.

    SexyMan Reply:

    @Captain Skellett, that is rare I feel like I should do something to savour this moment

    @SexyMan, I’m picturing you savouring the moment with a glass of wine and a cigar, lounging back in an armchair by an open fire.

    SexyMan Reply:

    stroking the giant polar bear rug on the floor

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