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Remember the episode where Rachel makes Ross promise her that if neither of them are married by the time they’re 40, they’ll settle down and marry each other?

That’s what Mc Gregor and Sterling-Angus were after — a sort of romantic safety net that prioritized stability over initial attraction.

But it’s unclear if the project can scale beyond the bubble of elite college campuses, or if the algorithm, now operating among college students, contains the magic key to a stable marriage.

The idea was hatched during an economics class on market design and matching algorithms in fall 2017.

Siena Streiber, an English major at Stanford University, wasn’t looking for a husband.

But waiting at the cafe, she felt nervous nonetheless.

Now there was a person sitting down across from her, and she felt both excited and anxious.

The quiz that had brought them together was part of a multi-year study called the Marriage Pact, created by two Stanford students.

They’ve run the experiment two years in a row, and last year, 7,600 students participated: 4,600 at Stanford, or just over half the undergraduate population, and 3,000 at Oxford, which the creators chose as a second location because Sterling-Angus had studied abroad there.

“There were videos on Snapchat of people freaking out in their freshman dorms, just screaming,” Sterling-Angus said.

“It was the beginning of the quarter, so we were feeling pretty ambitious,” Sterling-Angus said with a laugh.

“We were like, ‘We have so much time, let’s do this.’” While the rest of the students dutifully fulfilled the class requirement of writing a single paper about an algorithm, Sterling-Angus and Mc Gregor decided to design an entire study, hoping to solve one of life’s most complex problems.

Mc Gregor and Sterling-Angus read through academic journals and talked to experts to design a survey that could test core companionship values.

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