MyHeritage has run their Theories of Family Relativity (abbreviated sometimes as TOFR) software again, refreshing their database, which means more Theories of Family Relativity for DNA testers.
According to the MyHeritage blog:
The number of DNA Matches that include a theory increased by 42.5% from 9,964,321 to 14,201,731.
Sometimes we arrive at a theory through multiple paths, indicating a strong theory and providing additional supporting evidence. After the previous update, there were a total of 115,106,944 paths. This update increased the number of paths by 40.5% to 161,762,761.
The number of MyHeritage users who now have at least one Theory of Family Relativity™ for their DNA Matches has increased by 33.6%.
I’m SOOO glad I added all of those branches to my tree, including all children and grandchildren of my ancestors. Every piece of information is utilized in developing Theories.
I sure hope I have new Theories. Let’s see.
My New Theories
Yay, under DNA Matches, I have the purple banner that indicates there are new Theories waiting for me.
I can just click on View Theories to see all of the TOFR, including new ones.
You can see that clicking on the “View theories” button filters my matches to only those matches who have Theories. I have 65 matches, many of whom will have multiple Theories for me to evaluate. That’s an increase from 52 Theories previously, or a 20% increase.
New Theories result from people who have tested or transferred since TOFR was last run in July 2019. Some will be people who can now connect because someone’s tree or research documents now provide enough information to suggest a common ancestor – which of course is the foundation of Theories for DNA matches.
You can sort by new matches, but there isn’t a way to see only your new Theories of Family Relativity. That’s OK, because I make notes on each person with whom I have a Theory, plus I keep a separate spreadsheet.
Matches with notes show up with a purple note box. “No notes” have no color, so it’s easy to click through my TOFR matches pages, looking for TOFR matches with no color. Those are new TOFR matches.
Are the New Theories Accurate?
Theories with DNA matches are formed based on a combination of your tree, your matches tree, other people’s trees, community resource trees like FamilySearch, plus various documents like census records that tie people together.
The reason multiple Theories exist for the same match is because there are different possibilities in terms of how you and your match might be related or how different trees might tie you together. In some cases, Theories will be for different lines that you share with the same person.
Each Theory has a confidence calculation that weighs the reliability of each theory connecting segment based on internal parameters. As you can see below, this connection is given a 50% probability weight of being accurate. You can click on that percentage to review the match and comparative data.
Path 1 of my first new Theory is accurate, even though birth and death dates of Ann McKee’s husband are different at FamilySearch.
Looking further down this tree, you can see that my match had only extended their tree through Roxie, but a FamilySearch tree spanned the generations between Roxie and our common couple, Charles Speak and Ann McKee.
My tree didn’t extend down far enough to include Roxie.
Of the other 4 paths/Theories, 3 simply connect at different levels in the same basic trees, meaning that I connect at Margaret Claxton instead of Ann McKee.
The 5th path, however, is ambiguous and I can’t tell if it’s accurate or not. It doesn’t matter though, because I have 4 different solid paths connecting me and my new match.
Theories can connect people with almost no tree. One man had a total of 7 people in his tree, yet through multiple connections, we were connected accurately as 5th cousins.
One accurate Theory combined a total of 6 trees to piece together the Theory.
Working the Theories
I stepped through each match, making notes about each Theory, confirming the genealogy, checking for additional surnames that might indicate a second (or third or fourth) line, as well as SmartMatches.
SmartMatches only occur if the same people are found in both trees. I had no SmartMatches this time, because each of these Theories was more complex and required multiple tree hops to make the connection.
One match was a duplicate upload. After eliminating that from the totals, I have the following results for my newly generated Theories of Family Relativity.
|1||5||4 yes, 1 ambiguous|
|2||3||Not exactly, but close||Close enough that I could easily discern the common ancestor|
|5||1||Not exactly, but close||Within 1 generation|
|6||1||No||Acadian, needs additional research|
|7||5||Yes, but 2 with issues||2 were accurate, 2 with ancestor’s first wife erroneously as mother, and one with private mother|
|8||2||Not exactly, but close||Within 1 generation, also, 2 separate lines|
|10||4||Not exactly, but close||Within 1 generation|
|11||5||Yes||One wife shown as unknown|
|12||3||Not exactly, but close||Within 1 generation, also 4 separate common lines in total|
|Total||38||23 yes, 1 ambiguous, 13 close, 1 no|
All of the close matches were extremely easy to figure out, except one in a heavily endogamous population with many “same name” people. That one needs additional research.
I’m not at all unhappy with the Theories that weren’t spot on because Theories are meant to be research hints, and they got me to the end goal of identifying our common ancestor.
I wrote about how to use Theories, in detail, here.
Observations and Commentary
Theories of Family Relativity has been run by MyHeritage for the third time now. It doesn’t run all the time, so new testers and uploaders will need to wait until the next run to see their Theories.
You can expect some Theories to come and go, especially if someone has deleted a tree or changed a piece of data that a Theory utilized.
I did not go back and recheck my earlier Theories because I had already ascertained the common ancestor.
I have a total of 65 matches with whom I have TOFR, one of which is a duplicate.
I have a total of 99 paths, or Theories, for those 64 matches.
Of my 64 non-duplicate matches, only 5 don’t have at least one correct Theory. Of those 5, all incorrect Theories are a result of an incorrect tree or name confusion that I was able to easily resolve. Only one needs more research.
Reviewing the match for additional surnames often reveals multiple lines of descent beyond the Theories presented.
Previously, I only had 11 matches with multiple Theories, but of my 12 new matches, only 2 don’t have multiple paths. Multiple Theories are a function of more matches, more trees, and more resources. I’m grateful for all the hints I can get.
Remember, Theories are just that – theories that point you in a research direction. They require confirmation. Good thing we’re genealogists!
Of course, the good news is that I could paint my new matches at DNAPainter, having assigned them to our common ancestor, thanks to Theories. DNAPainter is a great sanity check. If you have the same reasonably sized segment attributed to multiple ancestors, something is wrong, someplace.
That something could be:
- That the segment is identical by chance in some matches
- Someone’s genealogy is inaccurate
- Imputation added invalid data
- You’re related in more ways, on more lines, that you know
- There’s an unknown parentage event in a line someplace
- That your ancestors were related
What About You?
Do you have new Theories of Family Relativity waiting for you?
Sign on and take a look.
MyHeritage offers free transfers from the DNA testing companies whose step-by-step upload instruction articles are listed below.
- Ancestry Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files
- Family Tree DNA Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files
- 23andMe Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files
Instructions for uploading TO MyHeritage are found here:
If you test at MyHeritage, all DNA features, functions, and tools are free.
If you transfer your DNA file to My Heritage, DNA matching is free, but Theories of Family Relativity requires either a site data subscription to access genealogical records, which you can try for free, here, or a one time $29 unlock fee for the advanced DNA tools which include:
- Theories of Relativity
- Chromosome browser
- Ethnicity estimates
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