A new angle on love: Satbir Malhi discusses romantic advice through mathematical equations

Satbir Malhi spoke about how love relates to mathematical equations. (Photo by Deniz Ozbay ’22)

Satbir Malhi, a visiting assistant professor at Franklin and Marshall College, gave the Lafayette community love advice this past Wednesday – through the means of differential calculus.

He began his talk, titled “Romance and Chaos in Love Affairs with Differential Calculus,” by examining the story of Romeo and Juliet as the reference point for all things love.

He played a video of the first romantic interactions between Romeo and Juliet, with quotes in the original play and clips from the movies.

His objective was simple: how does love evolve and how can it be put into mathematical equations?

“My first dating tip is: If you text twenty times before getting a text back, you need to push back…So wait a little bit until the other person feels more comfortable, and then you can push a little bit,” Malhi said.

Malhi went on to explain this concept through equations. He created two rates, Romeo’s love for Juliet and Juliet’s love for Romeo, and two constants, accounting for each lovers’ romantic style. He created four romantic styles: the eager-beaver, the narcissist, the cautious and the hermit. Each was based on the ratio of the balance between their own feelings and the feelings they have for their loved one. 

Malhi then interpreted the MATlab graph of Romeo and Juliet’s eager-beaver relationship.

“Love brings love, and hate brings hate. If you are in the region of hate, you are going to start hating each other forever…but if she loves him more than he hates her, then still she can bring him into the region where they will both love each other.” 

Malhi then brought in the classic love triangle dynamics between three people. Instead of using Romeo and Juliet, he turned to the television series “Friends” to use as an example. Malhi played a clip from Ross’s marriage to Emily, when he made the fatal mistake of calling her Rachel while saying his vows.

“Here I am taking the example of Ross and Emily and Rachel, but the third person could be anything, love for your family, love for your relatives,” Malhi said.

Malhi’s love triangle equations balance romantic style, the love for one person and the love for the other. When graphed, the MATlab graph of the three parties involved suitably resembled a heart,

“I am not making this up! I put this into the MATlab plot and this happened interestingly,” Malhi exclaimed.

Malhi did admit that his equations are not all inclusive.

“All these things I showed you sometimes to not apply in the real world because there are many other factors that I did not consider,” Malhi said. “Human emotions are very complicated to put that into one mathematical model is just impossible.”

His romantic advice was short and to the point: don’t push too much, first impressions count and love brings love while hate brings hate.

However, he did disclaim that the audience members should “use at your own risk.”

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