Those of you who use AncestryDNA may have noticed some unanticipated changes. Some of the people on your list of DNA matches may have been removed. The reason is because AncestryDNA updated its algorithm.
On April 20, 2016, AncestryDNA announced that they had been refining and expanding the science behind DNA matching. They said the advancements were expected to deliver more-precise predictions of who you are related to, and how closely, among the million-plus others in the AncestryDNA database.
The announcement included a potentially alarming sentence. “Of course, we can’t make your list of DNA matches more accurate without removing some of the less-accurate ones.” In short, the updated algorithm could give you new DNA matches to research. It could also remove some of the matches that you have already researched and believed were related to you.
On May 2, 2016, AncestryDNA followed up with a post titled “AncestryDNA’s Cutting-Edge Science Gets Even Sharper”. The main purpose of this post was to alert users that they started rolling out the update that improves the precision of their DNA matching. The post says the update had already been applied to users results.
What can users expect? The following information was in the post:
We’ve improved the confidence levels in estimating relationships by extending the comparison methods to potentially find longer segments of DNA shared between individuals. Individual results will vary,but because of this, you may see some DNA matches that were previously predicted to be more closely related to you at a higher confidence drop down in your list or no longer appear.
In addition, you may have been presented with new DNA matches that you haven’t seen before. AncestryDNA has provided some instructions for users who have taken notes or “starred” a DNA match that no longer appears on their new list. There is a limited amount of time in which you can download information about matches that have gone missing.
AncestryDNA is adding a weekly email that will notify users of 4th cousin matches (or closer). The reason is to easily incorporate new people in. When someone new takes the AncestryDNA test, the users who are a close cousin to that new person will get an email notification.
These new updates are made possible thanks to the 1.5-million people taking the AncestryDNA test, plus the family trees they share. All that data is enabling new findings in the science of how people are related to one another. Every new observation enables the scientists involved with AncestryDNA to find new methods to better predict who a person is related to, and how those two people are related.
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