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MatchSC: a service for ‘bored Trojans at home’

first_imgIt started last summer in a $6 million mansion near Palo Alto collectively referred to as “The Habitat.” Fifteen people, primarily entrepreneurs and creators from USC and Stanford, spent the summer hot-tubbing with the USC club wrestling team, tinkering with startups and avoiding noise complaints from their neighbors — who happened to include Walmart’s founding family.  Since then, more than 5,000 students who indicated interest in finding a “Platonic (Work from HOMIE)” or “romantic” soulmate were emailed their matches in waves Tuesday night through Wednesday after signing up for MatchSC, a five-minute matching quiz created by “bored Trojans stuck at home.”  But underneath the colorful experience was an experiment. Wagner said that it was their first real-life exploration of community and match-making. While the team stands behind their quiz, some respondents were more skeptical. Wagner said that she found three important aspects in determining whether a deep relationship would form: physical proximity, mutual friends and compatibility in personality and values. An interest in finding ways for people to escape loneliness and feel connected combined with the realization that many dating apps did not consider these components sparked the idea to test a matching service at USC.  If a person shared their Instagram or zip code, those factors could come into play as well. Stegner said a geographic function puts in the zip codes to minimize the total distance between people.  While the MatchSC survey has clear quarantine motifs scattered throughout — from the Corona bottle on its first page to the team’s “Fight on(line)” message — the idea was born long before the first case of the coronavirus emerged.  “Someone who really enjoys saving the world will probably enjoy someone else who will also enjoy saving the world,” said Redfern, a junior majoring in cognitive science. “Even if you answered juice box as your favorite drink, that’s not going to make a huge difference between one match and another, but we’re probably going to consider it. It’s going to be in there, just a little bit, but maybe location or major might matter significantly more.” “I thought the questions were really funny,” said Darren Tsai, a junior majoring in neuroscience. “Some of the questions were framed in a way or the question itself was not really representative of somebody’s personality … but for the most part it was pretty fun to fill out. There were some that kind of threw me off, though, like ‘On a scale of one to 10, how kinky would you say you were?’ I was not expecting to see that one.” “Could you build a tight-knit community out of people who didn’t know each other at all?” said Wagner, a junior majoring in computer science at Stanford who previously attended USC. “It was pretty intentional who was brought into the house.” “All this [coronavirus] stuff hit and we were like, ‘OK, people are now genuinely really bored, now we can help connect people that are just looking for something to do,’” said Stenger, a junior majoring in applied and computational mathematics. “It’s a good way to bring people back to the campus ethos and the great atmosphere … The timing worked out well even though it was kind of an accident.” Wagner said that once responses closed Sunday, the team realized there was a lopsided dating pool, and they had to adjust the algorithm to make sure all genders and sexualities were being matched as optimally as possible. Along with filtering out responses made by fake emails, this led to a delay in sending the matches. Starting March 24, the quiz opened for a week and involved a series of questions ranging from the quiz-taker’s gender identity to their USC pet peeve. While some questions had students indicate their level of agreement with statements like “it’s very important to help the people around me,” others were more lighthearted — prompting students to select their “biggest flex” from options like “not having ‘public figure’ in my Instagram bio” or “Soundcloud mixtape on the come up. Just watch.” The team believes their algorithm, which is based on thoroughly researched psychological profiles and inspired by famous tests like the Big Five Personality Test and Schwartz Value Survey, gives MatchSC the potential to create effective connections in the age of quarantine.  The MatchSC team comprises a group of friends — Grant Stenger, Nat Redfern, Melisa Seah and Wagner — most of whom met at USC during the 2017-18 school year and have previously worked together on projects like Lavalab, USC’s start-up incubator.  “People lived in closets, people lived under the stairs — it was just this big hacker house,” said Markie Wagner, one of the quiz’s developers. “It was a lot of spitballing ideas, a lot of hanging out.” Since results have been released, Wagner said she has already heard some funny stories, like the algorithm matching one respondent with their “hookup’s roommate,” and said she is open to MatchSC possibly continuing in the future.  “[Students] can trust the algorithm, it’s pretty research-backed and not whipped out of a hat,” said Wagner, who has had experience building AI algorithms through a past internship at Google. “There’s a lot of thoughtfulness that has gone into the algorithm itself.” “We were up all night,” Wagner said. “We didn’t really know what the data was gonna look like until we closed the survey on Sunday. Turns out we needed more than one day to account for all the shifts in data. We just wanted to give better matches that we felt were more rigorous and optimal than just sending out random matches.” “There was research backing all three of those different things, so we were interested in what ways could we try and test out some of those hypotheses and try to create matches that were better than what might be done on some traditional social media or dating app in a fun side-project way,” Wagner said.  “It’s like that thing with those bootleg ‘Harry Potter’ sorting house quizzes where there’s like four options and each option is distinctly like, you know, what house it’s trying to get at,” said Ariann Barker, a freshman majoring in writing for film and television. “That scale of one to 10 question that was like … ‘do you believe that people should be equal’ or something like that — imagine putting anything less than 10 and having to confront that, like having a quiz like that be like, ‘Oh yeah, are you a racist or a homophobe?’” While Redfern, Stegner and Wagner spent their summer days interning in the Bay Area and their nights at the mansion, Seah, a December 2019 graduate, was experimenting with community-building through High Table, a startup professional networking community. The startup community, incubated through Harvard’s Innovation Labs, hosts 15 meals from New York to Los Angeles and brings together a dynamic table of people unlikely to meet otherwise.  Much of the original idea was started in the house, Stenger said, and after working on the project throughout the school year, they planned to launch it around Valentine’s Day. Exams got in the way, and, coincidentally, the timing of the release seems to have worked in their favor.  The community experiments merged this spring when Wagner invited Seah to join the MatchSC team. Several team members had conducted prior academic research on building friendships and meaningful relationships.  Stegner said that certain parameters, like gender identity and sexuality preferences, take priority in the algorithm. Other factors carry less weight but are still highly considered: A Leo will be more likely to get another Leo, a person who eats a lot of fast food will be more likely to get someone who eats a lot of fast food.  As students are stuck at home, self-isolating and attending online classes, they looked to MatchSC to pass the time. Inspired by psychological tests such as the Big Five Personality Test, students are matched to a compatible Trojan after taking the five-minute quiz, where they are asked a number of questions, including what their “biggest flex” is. (Eliza Glover | Daily Trojan) “Originally it was kind of like a one-off quirky thing, and I think it probably will be, but people have really enjoyed it … sometimes these things become a tradition on campus,” Stegner said. “It could be cool to run it again.”last_img read more

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Emma Lamison emerging as late-season point producer for Syracuse field hockey

first_imgEmma Lamison lifted the ball into the air and continued to juggle it with her stick above the turf. A Duke defender tripped Lamison, leading to a SU penalty corner. Following her insertion, Lamison hugged the back post and tapped in a rebound goal.Emma Lamison is improving her play at the right time for No. 2 Syracuse (12-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast). In her last three games, the senior forward recorded 10 points on three goals and four assists, doubling her point total on the season. She was named the ACC offensive player of the week for her performances in the team’s last two games.Lamison led Northeastern in scoring her sophomore year with 26 points before transferring to Syracuse. But a year ago, she finished the season with 22 points and 37 shots. Only 13 games into this season, she has tallied 20 points and 33 shots. Her four assists this weekend matched her 2015 total.“Last year, I obviously dribbled a lot and tried to get the perfect shot,” Lamison said. “This year I really focused on trying to just hit it at the top of the circle.”But it is not just the statistics that show how Lamison is stepping up her game in her second season at Syracuse.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter not starting the season as the team’s inserter on penalty corners, Lamison earned her way to the top spot. She was more consistent with her hit speed and accuracy than the other two players battling for the position — Nijsje Venrooy and Jennifer Bleakney — head coach Ange Bradley said.Lamison has played a key role in a SU corner attack that has scored six goals on penalty corners in the last two games.“She’s always down the other end working on it,” Bradley said. “She’s been patient through the process and growing at a skill she needed to get better at.”For many players, it is either their breakaway speed or dominating size that defines their style of play. For Lamison, it’s her crafty stick handling.Against then-No. 2 Duke on Friday, Lamison showed special technical skills as she evaded Duke defenders on several occasions. Cornered by three defenders, Lamison spun around, split the defenders with a swift move from right to left and continued down the field with the ball.Lamison also keeps good positioning in the front line. She notched two rebound goals against Duke.“We all just have our specific position areas we gotta be in,” Lamison said. “You just hope the ball comes to you and you get it in when you get the chance.”Lamison has three two-goal games on the year. One of them came against then-No. 11 Wake Forest on Sept. 18. Just two minutes into the game, she scooped up a bouncing ball in front of the net, possessed it, then carefully placed it in the back left corner of the net. Later on, Lamison raced to a loose ball and finished with a reverse goal to give Syracuse an early two-goal advantage.Lamison started the season slow. She struggled to tally points. She was stuck in the back line on penalty corners.But now she is the lead inserter for a powerful Syracuse penalty corner attack. She leads the team in points over the last three games and is emerging as a top offensive threat for the Orange as the regular season winds down. Comments Published on October 11, 2016 at 10:01 pm Contact Josh: jlschafe@syr.edu | @Schafer_44 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more