Most of you rely on the GPU to render your CAD assemblies into ray-traced eye candies or pump up the blood and gore in your favorite first-person shooter games. (Did I hear someone mention Battlefield 3?) It turns out, with a little bit of programming — and a lot of ingenuity — you might also be able to use the graphics processor to speed up your search for a love match.
Chris McKinlay, who’s working on a Ph.D. dissertation on large-scale data processing and parallel numerical methods, decided to use his academic expertise to crack the code of OKCupid. (Read full story at WIRED.) To find compatible singles, the popular dating site relies heavily on its members’ responses to hundreds of multiple-choice questions (Could you date someone really quiet: yes, no? What type of humor do you enjoy most: witty, slapstick, sarcastic? and so on.)
With help from a neuroscientist friend, McKinlay created a bot (a computer program) that mimics real members’ behaviors. Then he unleashed his bot to harvest data related to 6 million questions and answers from 20,000 women across the country. To speed up the number crunching, McKinlay used CUDA, a programming platform for GPU-based parallel computing, and a NVIDIA Tesla GPU, according to NVIDIA.
With repeated statistical sampling, McKinlay was able to classify the women in his region (LA and San Francisco area) into several clusters, then gradually narrow his preferred pool to a reasonable-sized group made up of “indie types, musicians, and artists.”
The math genius explained his approach as follows: “By putting myself at the top of everyone’s match percentage, I would be exposing my profile to 20 to 25 thousand women — not just any women, but women who had answered questions in a statistically significantly similar way.”
But the GPU can only get you so far. Love still takes a lot of pavement pounding. McKinlay went on dates with his prospects, sometimes two in a single day. On his 88th date, he met Tian, the woman he plans to marry.
McKinlay and other romantics may turn to 3D printing for personalized gifts for their loved ones. Though initially invented to churn out quickie mockups, 3D printing is now in the business of just-in-time, one-of-a-kind gifts to immortalize lasting relationships. (The rush-order option at on-demand 3D printing service bureaus, I suspect, may save more than a few forgetful spouses from the wrath of belated Valentine’s presents.)
The Cubify site, a division of 3D Systems, offers printable mementos under its “Valentine’s for Her” and “Valentine’s for Him” sections. Options “For Her” include earrings shaped like intertwining couples (called “two-gether rings”) and handcuff-shaped rings (called “He Is Mine”). “For Him,” you can get a 3D-printed necktie in blue or red (the “Debate Ties” are designed to spark political banters) or 3D-printed iPhone and iPad cases. A gender-neutral option would be the heart-shaped bowls (dubbed “Fill your heart’s desire“), possibly for holding rose petals or candies (perhaps 3D-printed chocolates).
Charmr, a 3D-printing gift site based on Autodesk’s 123D brand, lets you create customized pendants and earrings featuring your loved one’s image (you’ll be prompted to upload it during the submission process).
With the way Shiv Diamonds uses Siemens PLM Software’s Solid Edge CAD program, assembly “mating” joins not just geometric surfaces but kindred spirits as well. The renowned jeweler designs and produces, among other things, the diamond-studded rings that symbolize matrimonial bonds.
Shiv designers previously used paper sketches and colored drawings to present new product ideas to management. They created prototypes in wax or silver. Then, upon approval, they prepared the rubber molds to mass-produce the new piece.
“Today Solid Edge is used to develop prototypes for new jewelry pieces as well as for designing the models used to make the rubber molds,” wrote Solid Edge PR. Chandresh Jariwala, Shiv’s managing director, said, “We use the Solid Edge viewer for design reviews to let management see pieces in 3D.”
SolidWorks teacher, mentor, and blogger Richard Williams, affectionately known as Corporal Willy, is not in the business of matchmaking or jewelry making. Nevertheless, he once cut some raw diamonds into fetching rings in his CAD program. In the process, he learned a lot about “how a diamond should be cut for the optimal amount of reflections.”
Whether your own Valentine’s is powered by GPUs, memorialized in 3D-printed mementos, or perfected in 3D CAD, may it be filled with love and joy!