Two new tools for DNA matching analysis

As RootsTech continues in Salt Lake City, MyHeritage DNA has joined in the fun of major announcements by launching its Theory of Family Relativity — a DNA matching analysis tool that uses family trees and records to suggest ways in which two DNA test takers may match each other, and a second new tool integrating autoclustering into its results.

First, the Theory of Family Relativity feature. What this tool does is integrate genealogical information from all the MyHeritage collections of historical records and family tree profiles, to offer theories on how DNA Matches might be related. So instead of having your tree matched only against a matches’ tree to see where the link might be, this system crawls through records and other trees to see if a link can be found.

Here’s an example from The Legal Genealogist‘s family (click on the image to see it larger):

Family Relativity

My great grandmother Martha “Mattie” Johnson in my tree is a match to her entry in another tree at MyHeritage, and the entry in that tree for her brother Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson1 matches the great grandfather of my DNA match in her tree.

I can then look for records — and find them — to verify this proposed relationship. I can find Lotta Pearl Johnson as a daughter of Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson, and her marriage to a man named Sydner, and her daughter Ruth (not Rith2) marrying a man with the surname of my match, and a birth index record for the match herself.

The links in any given case can be family trees or census records or newspaper articles or more.

So far I’ve found the following limitations:

1. Only kits that tested or uploaded before November 2018 have Theory of Family Relativity entries. Others coming online later will have to wait for the database to be re-run against the records.

2. The system is heavily weighted towards family trees; none of my entries linked through even so much as a census record.

3. As with all other tools of this nature, the bigger and more-well-documented a family tree is, the better the results.

4. I have a ton of Buchanan cousins (from the area of Burke-Yancey-Mitchell Counties, NC) who’ve tested at or uploaded to MyHeritage, and I wish my German cousins would get moving on this…

You can read more about this at the MyHeritage blog.3

And you can access it, if there are theories for your test kit, right from the DNA Matches tab of your DNA results — there’s a pinkish-colored link at the top to click on that will filter your results to only those matches where you have a Theory of Family Relativity.

The second new tool for DNA analysis at MyHeritage is called Autoclusters — in the words of MyHeritage: “a new genetic genealogy tool that groups together DNA Matches that likely descend from common ancestors in a compelling visual chart. This easy-to-use tool helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as numerous individuals, and gain insights about branches in your family tree.” It was “developed in collaboration with Evert-Jan Blom of GeneticAffairs.com, based on technology that he created, further enhanced by the MyHeritage team. Our enhancements include better clustering of endogamous populations (people who lived in isolated communities with a high rate of intermarriages, such as Ashkenazi Jews and Acadians), and automatic threshold selection for optimal clustering so that users need not experiment with any parameters.”4

This tool is accessed from the Tools menu of the DNA tab, either from the dropdown DNA menu itself or from a link when you’re looking at your matches. When you get to the Tools options, and click on Explore, it will explain the tool and give you the option to generate results. Click on that and you’ll get a message:

And then patience is in order. I tried this tool this morning, and am still waiting for the email telling me my results are available. You can see a representation of the results you’ll get on the right in the image above — and I’ve used this tool at Evert-Jan Blom’s GeneticAffairs.com website, however, so I know what to expect. It really is a wonderful way of visualizing your matches in groups that may help point you to where in your family tree a particular match may belong.

Again, you can read more about this at the MyHeritage blog.5

A good week for DNA so far at RootsTech… let’s see what the rest of the conference brings…


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “New MyHeritage DNA tools,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 28 Feb 2019).

SOURCES

  1. And yes, I am eternally grateful to my Johnson second great grandparents for giving a son a name like that. It beats the heck out of trying to find John Johnsons…
  2. The fact that the algorithm can find the match despite the typo is terrific.
  3. Introducing The Theory of Family Relativity™ — a Genealogy Game-Changer,” MyHeritage blog, posted 28 Feb 2019 (https://blog.myheritage.com/ : accessed 28 Feb 2019).
  4. Introducing AutoClusters for DNA Matches,” MyHeritage blog, posted 28 Feb 2019 (https://blog.myheritage.com/ : accessed 28 Feb 2019).
  5. Ibid.
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