Theory of Family Relativity™ Update – Could It Help Your Family Tree?

If you haven’t checked your MyHeritage DNA lately, then you might find a pleasant surprise because there may have been an update to your Theory of Family Relativity.

Here are the stats right from MyHeritage:

  • The total number of theories has increased from 33,373,070 to 39,845,078 — a 19% increase.
  • The number of DNA Matches that include a theory increased by 20% from 22,618,962 to 27,130,989.
  • Sometimes MyHeritage arrives at a theory through multiple paths, indicating a strong theory and providing additional supporting evidence of the relationship. After the previous update, there were a total of 261,960,015 paths. This update increased the number of paths by 20% to 312,222,662.
  • The number of MyHeritage users who now have at least one Theory of Family Relativity™ for their DNA Matches has increased by 12%. 

I have tested or have transferred quite a few of my family members’ DNA to MyHeritage, so I looked and found that five had NEW theories of the twelve DNA profiles on MyHeritage. Although I don’t recall how many I had before, I know it wasn’t very many, so this equates to 41% of all the profiles I manage. But could it help me with my trees? Let’s have a look.

First, let’s understand what a Theory of Family Relativity™ is. It was introduced in 2019, and you can read more about it HERE. But here’s my simplistic thought on what it does. The system takes your DNA matches and then looks at the billions of trees it has and the billions of records it contains and makes several paths as to how your family tree could connect with your match’s family tree. So similar to what I was talking about when I wrote Jumping from Genealogy Tree to Genealogy Tree. The algorithms are doing this for you.

So I spent some time over the past few days checking the theories that I received. Because I have several family members’ DNA on the same family tree on MyHeritage, there were duplicate theories.

The first “New Theory” was for my mom, and it was with a DNA match that she shared 36.8 cM on 1 Segment. The match only has a tree of 5 people, so as an estimated 3-5th cousin with the theory saying 3rd, let’s see how it comes to that conclusion.

When you click on “View Theory,” I found that there were four paths. At first glance, you might think that some of the paths are the same, but after a closer look, you realize that each path is possible, but the percentage of confidence is different and contains different things.

The illustration below shows Path 1, and there is overall confidence of 73%. It actually starts with my tree and jumps to tree 1 (that jump is 100% confident), then over to tree 2 (that jump has 73% confidence and finally, on my mom’s DNA match’s tree 3 (that has the confidence of 93%). Note that I had most of these people in my tree, but I hadn’t dug all the way over to DNA match tree 3.

Path number one was entirely from trees, but the other paths included records.

Paths 2, 3, and 4 all include census records. Path 2 includes the 1871 census and three members’ trees and has overall confidence of 60%. Path 3 has the 1881 census and the same three members’ trees with a confidence of 40%, and Path 4 also includes the 1881 census but looks at the FamilySearch tree, and the same three members’ trees and the overall confidence is 25%.

Because I’ve done most of the research except to understand who Catherine Middlebrough’s daughter had married, it only took a bit of research to confirm that my mom’s DNA match probably was her 3rd cousin. Of course, If I want to be completely sure, I should flesh out my mom’s DNA match’s tree to more than five people and confirm that he doesn’t connect a different way.

It is interesting that although I have my mom’s three brother’s DNA on MyHeritage, only one brother had the same new theory. In fact, one brother had an entirely different new theory, and one brother still doesn’t have any theories at all.

What about my Dad’s DNA? Well, sure enough, he had one new Theory of Family Relativity. This time there was only one path, and the confidence is 60%. The match is a 31.2 cM match, and he has a 254 person tree.

I know the image is small (if you click on it, it will get larger). In this case, the theory is entirely made up of other trees. Mine plus four others. So this will require further study to ensure that the research for each of the trees is correct.

My dad’s brother, Ken, had the same new theory but also one additional theory. That theory was with someone who shared 16cM of DNA and had a three-person tree. The system had used my tree, plus two other members’ trees and the 1911 British Census to prove the theory. This theory had a confidence value of 20%.

Also, as I was writing this article, MyHeritage had added two new tools in DNA matches.

You’ll now see both when you look at a DNA match to see who you have in common.

You’ll now see if they have a tree icon and a note icon. This is wonderful because before, you would have had to go into that person’s profile before you knew that they had either a tree or a note that you’ve put on their profile. These new features were added because of user feedback, so don’t think that MyHeritage isn’t listening to your suggestions.

So have a look and see if you have a new Theory of Family Relativity and give the new tools a look. Who knows you might get a little help with your family tree.

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