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Trying out the new MyHeritage Theory of Family Relativity tool

At last week’s RootsTech conference MyHeritage announced a new dna tool called the Theory of Family Relativity. According to their announcement “Through this new feature, we provide you with leads explaining the relationship between your matches based on our entire collection of family trees and historical records, removing the guesswork, and saving you hours of research time." I thought I’d take a moment to put the new feature to the test with my dna results.

I found the Theory of Family Relativity Tool by clicking on the DNA link at MyHeritage and then selecting DNA Matches. Next click on the pink View theories button.

Relativity-1

I have five dna matches that have a Theory of Relativity. My first three matches are distant cousins that I have previously messaged and we have been able to determine how we are connected. The MyHeritage Theory of Relativity matches up exactly for those matches.

The third, though known to me already, is of great interest because we are both from a brick wall line. MyHeritage shows us preview information about the theory (see image below). Interestingly enough the shared surnames shown, Johnson and Shaw are not how we are connected. In fact, his descent from our common ancestral couple is not included on his tree at all. That branch of the family is left off. And yet MyHeritage was able to piece our relationship together anyway. The image below shows that the Theory of Relativity predicts that we are 3rd cousins once removed, which is accurate.

Relativity-2

In order to view the actual Theory I needed to click the View Theory link which is pink and admittedly very small. I would like it they could make that just a little bit bigger.

So how did MyHeritage figure out our connection?

It compared my tree to a tree found on FamilySearch.  I believe what the algorithym did in this case was to combine information from a FamilySearch tree, the tree of someone who also shared ancestors with my dna match and finally with the very limited tree of my dna match. I can only imagine how that gets processed behind the scenes. Given that there was no  direct online link between us other than our shared dna I'm impressed that the Theory of Relativity figured it out.

Relativity-3
Theory of Relativity showing tree explanantion of how I am connected to my match. (only top level shown for privacy)

I have two more Theory of Relativity matches to check out. I don't know yet how we are connected so I'll likely start with the suggestions from MyHeritage and see if I can prove or disprove the connections. So far, with three Theories proven as correct and two left to be determined I'm off to a pretty good start.

Check our your Theory of Family Relativeity results at MyHeritage by checking the DNA matches section of your account.

 

Marian Pierre-Louis is the Social Media Marketing Manager for Legacy Family Tree. She is also the host of The Genealogy Professional podcast. Her areas of expertise include house history research and southern New England research. Check out her webinars in the Legacy library.

Comments

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I am a paid member of My Heritage but I did not find the small pink button for the relativity theory on the pages you list.

Barbara,

On your DNA matches page you should have a big pink box with an large oval "View theories" button like in the first picture above. Do you see that on your dna match page?

Otherwise do you have a family tree associated with your dna kit? Is it public or private? I think that might make a big difference in MyHeritage's ability to connect you to your dna matches.

Marian

If the DNA was transferred from another company and the owner is not a subscriber to MH, I believe a one time fee of $29 is required to see the new Relativity. Helen Sellin

Hi,
I just tried this and never would have found it without your information. I have three people listed. The first was right on. The second was absolutely weird. It shows my father's mother as my father and incorrect parents for him. What is also funny is that the information in this second one contradicts the information in the first one. I haven't checked the third yet. I don't think I will be using the theory of relativity. I do find the tools helpful however.

Helen,

I contacted the MyHeritage folks and what you say about the one-time fee is correct.

Marian

This is definitely an impressive cobbling together of various sources to make a connection! One of my theories made the connection through the Geni tree, a MyHeritage tree, then the 1880 Census, another MyHeritage tree, the 1930 census, and then my DNA match's tree. Quite convoluted and I'm somewhat skeptical of the connections.

Conveniently, each connection denotes a level of match/confidence. Some of those jumps above are only a "20%" match. But, still, it's an interesting theory and outlines a possible connection to someone that has minimal information in their tree. That's something that I never would have been able to do on my own.

I tried it and it found a 5C who only had 10 people in his tree. When I built out his tree it led right up to our MRCA. Without this new tool, I usually would have ignored our DNA match because our cM were 33.1 and with only 10 people in the tree, not worth the effort. But now I have established another bona fide cousin and MH did the work.

.I really do not understand all of the DNA test results that I have received. I took 4 tests: MyHeritage, Ancestry, FamilyTree, and 23andMe.

So far the only one which gave me a long list of possible cousins was 23andMe, and so far I have made contact with about a dozen previously unknown cousins from that list...we have been trading family tree info and have all learned much more about our lineages and interconnections.

I did somehow get MyHeritage and 23andMe downloaded into GEDmatch (couldn't remember how I did it and never got Ancestry & FamilyTree into GEDmatch). Now, I haven't a clue what to do with GEDmatch and what was the purpose for having DNA data in there.

So, I have basically given up on anything having to do with the 4 different DNA tests that I took except to find unknown relatives using the huge list of possible cousins provided by 23andMe, the only thing I have received fron all the DNA tests that I can actually understand and use to find my family roots.

EuGene Smith
Clinton, Ark

Oh, my. If we thought on line trees were a mess before...

What impresses me the most is the fact that MH is also using their historical records databases to make these connections in addition to other people's trees. This is totally unlike Ancestry's "Shared Ancestor Hints" and brand new "ThruLines" which rely entirely on other online trees. Long-time experienced genealogists are well aware that too many online trees are riddled with errors that can take your research down a deep dark hole in the wrong direction if you're not careful. I look forward to seeing just how well this feature works!

I have several where they are obviously wrong (wrong parents etc )how can i stop them appearing in the relativity matches

Hi,

I did not find the small pink button for the relativity theory or the banner on the pages with my DNA matches list. I have a family tree associated with my DNA. I am managing two DNA presently. May be it is not any theory for us.

I don't have a membership to My Heritage. Do you need more than a basic membership to be able to use this relativity tool?

I also do not find the small pink button or banner on my DNA Matches page. Can you explain why this would be the case? Thanks!

For those who are not finding the pink banner or the pink "View theories" button: you may not have any theories related to your matches at this time. I recently read another blog (Hound on the Hunt) & she manages DNA results for *12* different people * has only THREE total Family Relativity theories. Remember: each DNA kit likely has thousands of matches, so if you multiply that by 12 kits & only have THREE MATCHES with FR theories, that's a really small percentage. Not sure if this number will grow as the system continues to search records & trees on MH & other sites, but I think it might. Perhaps this will be similar to Ancestry's DNA Circles & be something that changes in number (higher & lower) over time.

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