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Love, disappointment and weak law of large numbers! Featured

Post 08 February 2012 by  Montasser Ghachem
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How could the Weak Law of Large Numbers change your love experiences? What is the cost of using Mathematics in your love life? Mathematics insures you against disappointment but deprives from the euphoria that many a one dreams of... Would you let Mathematics into your love life, would you?

To be disappointed is to be depressed or discouraged by the failure of one's hopes or expectations. Our expectations fail if they are not based on objective facts and realistic grounds, the expectation of the kid regarding the powers of his father fail because he fails to recognize the true nature of his father. A thorough analysis of any phenomenon informs us about its nature and helps us avoiding false expectations and disappointments… knowing the phenomenon, while having romantic views about subjects, phenomena and people misguide us on what is the rule in them. People fall in love with other people based on very few observations, and they form their model about them using very few data.

Anyone who is familiar with Mathematics might have heard of the weak law of large number which stipulates that the mean (rule) of sequence of observations converges towards the mean (rule) of the population as the number of observations grows big. That’s the more you observe someone the better your view about this person becomes. The first observations that one receives might be outliers or exceptions. Generalizing from a very small sample could lead us to a model of the person which is completely different from what the norm is in him/her. It appears to me that the existence of disappointment in love is the immediate result of the failure to apply the weak law of large numbers. By taking one's time to knowing someone, the view that we have about this person approcahes with increasing probability the true nature of the person and thus reduces considerably the risk of disappointment. But whoever has been long enough among humans, must have realized the importance of the first impression and how fast people choose to fall in love... I remember a friend telling me that you should not be slow in getting in a relationship with someone (a girl of course :) ) otherwise, the relationship would become a friendship? What is this hidden norm that blocks the application of weak law of large numbers? An attempt to answer this question is below.

Most people prefer “falling” in love before knowing the person they are getting involved with. The reason is that they’re looking for is not that specific person but rather for a physical existence that they would try to mold to the image of their ideals. This unconscious decision of giving in to someone without having enough knowledge serves a very important psychological role: it helps us to submit to an ideal of perfection that we construct. This ideal would allow us to behave irresponsably, think of all crazy things that have been done in the name of love... wouldn't that be the instinct of freedom that would like to free itself from the tyranny of reason and social constraints? Haven't you ever noticed how people speak about people they love? Don't they seem extra-terrestrial, perfect in all aspects? Since no person could be the embodiement of such ideal, knowing the person would make it impossible to live the fantasy that most lovers would like to live. Given that such ideals are not realistic and none could live up to the expectations of the lovers, these expectations fail, causing a great disappointment. Ultimately, Mathematics and the weak law of large number helps you avoid disappointment, it advises you to get close solely to a person who is predictable or whose error of prediction given your model is very low; however this insurance has a cost i.e. you wouldn’t be able to build this euphoria and idealism around the person that you love. You reach happiness by loving people for whom they are, you are struck by disappointment by loving people for who you want them to be.


Mathematically Monty.

Montasser Ghachem

Montasser Ghachem

I am an Econ PhD student in Stockholm University. My interests are Poetry, Philosophy, Sociology, Economics and Game Theory. I am currently visiting Harvard University in USA. I share with you here my poems, my essays and my small discoveries in life. From Tunisia to USA, going through Germany and passing by Sweden; flows my life... A tale of metamorphosis!

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