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Online Dating Magazine Interview with Dr. Rense Lange of Integrated Knowledge Systems
Interview conducted by James Houran, Ph.D.

The following interview is with a special innovator who is someone you probably never knew existed up until now and probably would never have heard of if not for this spotlight.

Customers hardly ever get to appreciate all that happens behind the scenes at online dating services. Sometimes it’s chaotic, sometimes it’s a rut, and sometimes it’s magical. From my experience, the magical stuff happens when people are allowed to realize goals that stem from personal and professional aspirations. It’s a "mental zone" for employees and contractors where product or service development ceases being a "job" and becomes a passionate mission – an obsessive crusade to break new ground and exceed your personal best.

The person you’re going to meet is a dedicated academic, a brilliant researcher and statistician, and a revolutionary entrepreneur. His name is Dr. Rense Lange. Let me borrow from “The Wizard of Oz” to introduce him simply as “the man behind the curtain.” And, wait till you read his answers to my questions about this wild frontier we call the online dating industry!

Dr. James Houran: You’re responsible for the mathematics and computer code for arguably one of the most successful, controversial, and innovative tests on the Internet today –'s “SEXPLORATION” test. It’s an understatement, some might argue, that this test has pushed True into a new level of success. Yet, innovators like you never seem to receive credit for your brilliant brainchilds. What’s it like knowing that virtually no one will ever truly appreciate your work on Sexploration?

Dr. Rense Lange: Without asking for pity here, this is pretty much what usually happens to me (and I’m sure to many others). Now, I wouldn’t expect the consumer to notice much, after all people have gotten used to the fact that companies spend fortunes to have their websites do everything consumers want and expect. People have become very demanding, expecting that software does what they want without making them uncomfortable. What SEXPLORATION shows that online testing can now include “sensitive” issues like sexual preferences. It allows True to address this issue without offending anyone, since the questions are always adapted to the comfort level of the test taker.

Now, adaptive testing has been around for a long time, it’s used, for instance, by Microsoft and other large companies. Many teenagers are used to it already as some academic test publishers have computer adaptive sample tests on their websites. But, no, I don’t think people realize what’s involved and what else could be done with this. Actually, over the last few months I have started to rethink the whole approach a bit, and I now believe that adaptive testing is just the tip of a huge iceberg that’s even more exciting.

Dr. James Houran: You might’ve seen my recent column about compatibility testing on Online Dating Magazine. Assuming that compatibility testing isn’t a fad and will remain a fixture in the online dating industry, what do you see as the next generation of compatibility testing?

Dr. Rense Lange: I think that compatibility testing will fade if online dating sites keep on doing what they’re doing now. Long questionnaires, often with very predictable questions, text only, etc... this all will get (and probably is already) boring! The next generation of compatibility testing should be playful, short or long – depending on what the user wants, and above all interesting and worthwhile! I don’t mean “cute” – I mean genuinely surprising, in a way that goes beyond what people now already expect. This is possible because even though we all like to think that we are different and unique, we are in fact quite predictable. The problem is to exploit this in unforeseen ways. I’m not going to give away my new insights here, but let’s just say that we will have to model the user to a far greater extent than is currently done.

Dr. James Houran: What about the online dating industry was most interesting or surprising to you?

Dr. Rense Lange: Hmm... Lots of things. First, their popularity. I mean there are millions of users across all those sites, there is an enormous need. Second, the fact that most sites only did (and do) the "obvious" things, using common sense notions. People who are alike get along better? Sounds like most people’s grandma, right? But, it is overlooked that similarity is constructed by people, shaped by time and place (culture), and that many successful couples are not really similar at all. If similarity is so important, and that is how people should select mates, why do half of all marriages fail? The dating industry may be missing completely what’s interesting and important here. They’re conducting one of the greatest real-life experiments in psychology, but their lack of vision and expertise prevents them from actually learning what’s going on and what to do about it.

Dr. James Houran: So, can you top your past work in online testing? I mean… what’s next for you?

Dr. Rense Lange: Top my own work and personal best, sure. What I’ve done didn’t really go beyond what I said in the last question. Doing online dating right is very hard, and I don’t claim that I’ve got all the answers. However, I learned something about how not to do things; that alone is very useful. Right now I’m full of other ideas, and I see useful and hugely profitable applications outside testing. Who knows, things might come full circle and I might come to back to this field later.

Dr. James Houran: Finally, based on your amazing and worldly life experiences and your tremendous brainpower and education, what might your "screen name" be if you had an online dating profile?

Dr. Rense Lange: That would be Sidharta, after the main character in Hesse’s book with the same title. Like in the story, my life has been a personal and professional trip with many unexpected turns and twists. I ended up using the strange formalisms created by an eccentric Danish statistician that I learned in a centuries-old university in the Netherlands, to do much of the math behind True's tests in Texas. Those formulas now bring people together all over the world. Pretty magical, really, everything changes and stays the same simultaneously. Also, I like Plato – yup, a good name for me also, except it’s too pretentious.

I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting this "man behind the curtain." Of course, he’s not alone. It’s my intention to introduce to you more unsung heroes, pioneers, and colorful characters in the online dating industry. It’s a fascinating world behind the curtain, and you’ll find these entertaining stories only on Online Dating Magazine. Watch for more special interviews to come soon... and in the mean time keep your eyes for a mathematical geek who might be looking for love under the name of Sidharta. If you don’t find Dr. Lange looking for love, you can always find him and read about his work and endeavors at


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