What kind of question would you like answered?

Q: My problem with the relationship formula is that I don’t think the variables can be decided by either member of the potential relationship.

Yeah, no, the formula is crazy. It’s the work of a deluded madman desperate to find some intellectual path out of a mostly non-intellectual problem.

Q: How did Daniel Biss’s mathematical help factor into the writing process? Did he write the formula before you began the novel or vice versa?

He wrote the formula after the first draft but before the huge revisions (more than 75% of the story was deleted) that accompanied the last year or so of the writing process.

Daniel’s math helped a lot with the writing. I needed Daniel to help me understand what variables Colin would care about most. Also, in the process of writing the formula, we came up with lots of jokes (some mathematical and some not) that ended up in the book.

It was really great fun. Mathematicians get a bad rap. All the ones I’ve met are brilliantly funny, Daniel included. (He is now, of course, not so much a mathematician as a politician.)

Q: If I try the formula and get a graph that doesn’t cross the x-axis, does that mean the relationship never would have happened?

No it means you calculated the dumpee/dumper differential as 0, which Colin believes is literally impossible.

Q: Did you ever use the formula to test your real life relationships?

Yeah, Daniel and I messed around with it a lot to make it as funny and accurate as possible. (My favorite joke is that the formula fails if the dumper/dumpee ratio is 0, as if it has never occurred to Colin that people could come into a relationship on equal dumper/dumpee footing.)

Q: Does the formula work?

No. For one thing, the formula is designed overwhelmingly to bias past relationship history as a determining factor in who ends a romantic relationship. I happen to think one’s history actually is a pretty good determining factor, but certainly Daniel and I overemphasized it as a little joke to all the hardcore math nerds reading the book. Furthermore, it’s totally impossible to write a mathematical formula that will reliably predict such a complicated equation as love–not because love is essentially nonmathematic or irrational (I think it is in many ways both rational and mathematic), but because the variables are too numerous. There has been some interesting research in the field, however.