How math helps to choose the right marriage partner

By Murray Bourne, 17 Feb 2010

wedding rings
[Image source]

Say you are on a desert island and you know there are 3 girls of marriageable age on the island. You will meet them one-by-one and you need to choose the "best" one to marry.

If you propose to the first one you meet, there is a chance she is not the "best" one and you won't have made the best choice.

Or, you could reject that first girl and see if the second one is better. If so you could propose to her, or perhaps reject her, hoping the last one is the best out of the 3. (Any girl you reject will never talk to you again.)

What is the best approach to maximize your chances of proposing to the "best" girl?

The following article analyzes the probability behind this problem. It's rather tongue-in-cheek (meaning it is based on reasonable assumptions, but may not be the best way to choose your mate!)

The Marriage Problem: How to Choose?

[This is from the excellent Parabola magazine, for "secondary schools", by University of New South Wales Mathematics and Statistics department.]

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