Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Waiting for the AncestryDNA Improvements

Anna Swayne wrote Coming Soon: Improved DNA Matching two weeks ago on the Ancestry.com Blog.  The article said:

"AncestryDNA has quickly grown to over half a million people in its database. Pairing this data with well-documented family trees and the expertise of Ancestry has allowed the AncestryDNA science team to develop groundbreaking new algorithms for finding and predicting relationships through DNA. These new algorithms will lead to better matches for anyone who tests with AncestryDNA.

"Of course, we can’t make your list of matches more accurate without removing the less accurate ones. So, your DNA match list may get a little smaller—in some cases, quite a bit smaller. For example, some of the more distant cousin matches will no longer be considered a DNA match and will drop off your list. You can learn more about the science behind these improvements in this blog post from AncestryDNA General Manager Ken Chahine. The post refers to DNA matching challenges found in specific populations, but these same kind of improvements can be made across all AncestryDNA tests."

Read all the comments on the blog post - there are many AncestryDNA users who want a chromosome browser, but I don't think that will happen in this improvement, since AncestryDNA said at a recent conference that they will not do that soon.

The improvements to AncestryDNA are going to be in the matching system, and will likely be reflected on user DNA pages soon.  Like Roberta J. Estes (see In Anticipation of Ancestry's Better Mousetrap),

I decided to save some screen images of my AncestryDNA results so I can compare them with the improved web pages and results.

1)  I clicked the DNA link on the Ancestry.com menu ribbon and selected "Your DNA Home Page":

The DNA home page provides a small pie chart of my Ethnicity Estimate and a link for my Matches.

2)  The Ethnicity Estimate is shown below:

I don't think that the Ethnicity Estimate is going to change with this next improvement.

3)  My AncestryDNA Results can be listed by "Relationship" or by "Date."  Here is the "Relationship" list (only two screens shown):

As you can see, they are listed with the closest relationship at the top.  There are 208 pages, each with 50 matches, in my list - so a total of about 10,400.  Of those, there are:

*  1 3rd Cousin (98% confidence)
*  106 4th to 6th cousins (95% confidence)
*  about 10,300 5th to 8th cousins (Moderate to Very Low confidence)

The user can select "Hints" (denoted by green leaves), "New" (recently added), or "Starred" (those that the user selects).  I have 97 matches that have a green leaf "Hint."  However, only 4 of those Hints are with persons in the top 107 matches.  There are also 22 persons on the top 107 matches that have no family tree on Ancestry, and 12 that have a private family tree.  Some family trees for matching persons have only a few persons in their Ancestry Member Tree - I saw one with two persons.   So about 40-50% of my closest matches cannot be compared easily.

I decided to save the first five sets of 50 matches as PDF files also so I can compare them with any changes.

4)  If you click on a match with a green leaf Hint and a public tree, you can see the most recent common ancestor(s) and the descent for the user and the matching person.  Here is the chart for one of my 3rd cousin matches (which is labeled a 4th cousin match):

This comparison is great - I really like it - and I'm pretty sure that Ancestry will keep this because it makes so much sense (frankly, it makes sense to do it to find common ancestors in Ancestry Tree matches too).

5)  I hope that the improved AncestryDNA will provide better and more useful matching features.  I would like to see an improved Ethnicity Estimate and a chromosome browser in the future.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/11/waiting-for-ancestrydna-improvements.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

nancy said...

Haven’t gotten email announcement yet, but my Ancestry DNA account went from 363 pages of matches to 60 pages overnight …

with half Jewish heritage, this was expectation of changes announced in August.