Theory of Family Relativity™ launched by MyHeritage DNA promises to be a 'game changer' for DNA genealogy research

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28 February 2019
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The Theory of Family Relativity™, a new innovation from MyHeritage DNA will, for the first time, bring together the paper-trail of family trees and the world of DNA to show how people are related to each other.

The Theory of Family Relativity™, a new innovation from MyHeritage DNA will, for the first time, bring together the paper-trail of family trees and the world of DNA to show how people are related to each other.

Have you taken a DNA test for family history but then found yourself confused by the range of DNA matches you receive, unsure about whether or how you're related to certain matches? The Theory of Family Relativity™ is a new initiative that will use trees, records and DNA results to show and explain precise relationship paths.

Exploring billions of records and family trees

MyHeritage explain that the technology offers users, for the first time ever, theories that utilise almost 10 billion historical records and family tree profiles to explain DNA connections.

The Theory of Family Relativity™ is based on a big data graph that connects billions of data points drawn from thousands of databases on MyHeritage, in real time. Every node on this graph represents a person, and every edge depicts a blood relationship between two individuals that is described in a family tree or a historical record; or a match between two tree profiles that are likely to be the same person; or two records that are likely to be about the same person.

These connections between people and records are established by MyHeritage’s matching technologies. MyHeritage engineers and algorithm experts led by the company’s CTO, Sagi Bashari, developed a unique approach that allows the big data graph to instantly compute all paths between millions of blood relatives. The Theory of Family Relativity™ draws upon this resource to construct the most plausible theories explaining how pairs of people linked by a DNA Match on MyHeritage are related, using family trees and historical records.

How am I related to a DNA match?

Previously, users who took a DNA test looking to find relatives were faced with puzzling lists of thousands of distant relatives, without many clues explaining the DNA connections. Now, for a growing percentage of these DNA Matches, theories are provided by MyHeritage that explain the precise relationship paths using trees and records. In these theories, DNA helps separate fact from fiction in the genealogy and shows which tree and record connections appear to be correct.

This technology uses millions of family trees on MyHeritage, as well as the World Family Tree on Geni, which is replicated daily to MyHeritage, and the single family tree of FamilySearch, which is also replicated daily to MyHeritage under license. 

Additionally, the technology utilises billions of historical records on MyHeritage, including all census records, as well as the MyHeritage Record Detective™ technology that indicates whenever two records are about the same person. For example: a theory that explains a DNA Match between two users can begin in the family tree of the first user, traverse through a series of matching trees into a census record, continue to a household relative, who then matches into another tree, until the path completes with the family tree of the second user. MyHeritage displays the complete path of every theory, and explains every step along the way, allowing the user to verify its accuracy. Each theory is presented with a confidence level that is based on the confidence of the matches used to construct it.

A game changer

“Our new technology is a game changer in its scope and power and is a tribute to our passion for developing the best genetic genealogy tools for our users,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “Using genealogy to explain DNA Matches, and using DNA to validate genealogy matches, combines the best of both worlds. We expect this technology to help people make new discoveries in their family history. With every day that goes by, this technology grows even more powerful as more tree profiles, historical records and DNA kits are added to our global database.”

The Theory of Family Relativity™ feature is included for free with all Premium, PremiumPlus, and Complete subscriptions on MyHeritage. Individuals who upload their raw DNA data from other testing services to MyHeritage who do not have a subscription can pay a one-time fee of $29 per DNA kit to unlock the Theory of Family Relativity™ and the full range of advanced DNA features offered by MyHeritage.


MyHeritage will be offering help and advice at Family Tree Live in April - get your ticket now.

QUICK LINK: Six ways a DNA test can help your family history