Happy Kepler Day! and good God – How on Earth can a mortal soul maximize the amount of love and happiness in their life? Well, history’s greatest scientists found the answer using no other language than math. Not only did this arithma-trick solve Kepler’s wife-choosing problem, but it also became known to be the optimum pick for many of life’s great quandaries – Meet the 37% rule…

“Johannes Kepler, whose life spanned from the late 1500s to the early 1600s, was perhaps most remarkable as a scientist for his discovery that planets moved in ellipses around the Sun. However, his consideration of whom to marry after the death of his first wife would spark an entire field of mathematics, the set of “optimal stopping problems,” that is still active to this day.

On 30 October 1613, Kepler married the 24-year-old Susanna Reuttinger. Following the death of his first wife Barbara…


Kepler's first wife

Image Credit Sputnik Media Bank


Sure, she was a looker, get over it, he did! Kepler had considered 11 different matches over two years (a decision process formalized later as the marriage problem).


Kepler Picking a Wife from the Catalogue

Kepler Picking a Wife from the Catalogue


Through the power of mathematics, he figured out a simple rule: reject the first 37% of all potential marriage partners, then pick the next “best” one. His solution still holds up today.


Kepler wife rule - Solved

Image Credit: John Billingham; Annotations by E. Siegel


No matter how much you like any of the early options that are presented to you, you should unilaterally reject the first 37% — technically, the first 36.788% — of all options that you encounter. Then, the very next time you encounter an option that you deem is superior to that previous “best option” you remembered, you should choose that option and never look back.

Read more about How Johannes Kepler solved life’s hardest problem and here, and if the wifey is away…. here’s one for the secretary.


And please spare a thought for Kepler’s first wife – who died early and no doubt, thanked her lucky stars!



“… not my own opinion, but my wife’s: Yesterday, when weary with writing, I was called to supper, and a salad I had asked for was set before me. ‘It seems then,’ I said, ‘if pewter dishes, leaves of lettuce, grains of salt, drops of water, vinegar, oil and slices of eggs had been flying about in the air for all eternity, it might at last happen by chance that there would come a salad.’ ‘Yes,’ responded my lovely, ‘but not so nice as this one of mine.” ― Johannes Kepler


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