In the scenario, you’re choosing from a set number of options.
For example, let’s say there is a total of 11 potential mates who you could seriously date and settle down with in your lifetime.
Committing to a partner is scary for all kinds of reasons.
The next person you date is marginally better than the failures you dated in your past, and you end up marrying him.
But he’s still kind of a dud, and doesn't measure up to the great people you could have met in the future.
You want to date enough people to get a sense of your options, but you don't want to leave the choice too long and risk missing your ideal match.
You need some kind of formula that balances the risk of stopping too soon against the risk of stopping too late.
But it turns out that there is a pretty simple mathematical rule that tells you how long you ought to search, and when you should stop searching and settle down.
The math problem is known by a lot of names – “the secretary problem,” “the fussy suitor problem,” “the sultan’s dowry problem” and “the optimal stopping problem.” Its answer is attributed to a handful of mathematicians but was popularized in 1960, when math enthusiast Martin Gardner wrote about it in .One problem is the suitors arrive in a random order, and you don’t know how your current suitor compares to those who will arrive in the future. (If you're into math, it’s actually 1/e, which comes out to 0.368, or 36.8 percent.) Then you follow a simple rule: You pick the next person who is better than anyone you’ve ever dated before.To apply this to real life, you’d have to know how many suitors you could potentially have or want to have — which is impossible to know for sure.But if you use the method above, the probability of picking the best of the bunch increases significantly, to 37 percent — not a sure bet, but much better than random.This method doesn’t have a 100 percent success rate, as mathematician Hannah Fry discusses in an entertaining 2014 TED talk.You'd also have to decide who qualifies as a potential suitor, and who is just a fling.