Introducing AutoClusters for DNA Matches

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We’re excited to introduce AutoClusters — 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.

An example AutoClusters chart (Click to zoom)

In recent years, millions of people are turning to DNA testing to gain insights into their family history and to discover new relatives. While DNA testing does provide answers, typical DNA Matching results include only estimated relationships, such as 3rd cousin, with no indication of the exact relationship path. In some cases, MyHeritage is able to use historical records and family trees to suggest the exact relationship path (see Theory of Family Relativity™ feature we just released this week) but this is not always possible. That’s where the new AutoClusters tool comes in handy!

AutoClusters organizes your MyHeritage DNA Matches into shared match clusters that likely descended from common ancestors. By grouping together DNA Matches who likely belong to the same branch and have a common ancestor, AutoClusters can be very helpful in shedding light on the relationship paths that connect you and your matches. By reviewing family trees of clustered matches, users can piece together the entire branch. Clusters are color-coded for convenience and are presented in a powerful visual chart, as well as in list format.

This new tool 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.

MyHeritage is thrilled to be the first major DNA service to offer automatic clustering technology to its users.

More About the AutoClusters chart

Each of the colored cells in a cluster represents an intersection between two of your matches, meaning that both individuals match each other (in addition to matching you). These cells are grouped together physically and by color to create a powerful visual chart of your shared match clusters.

Each color represents one shared match cluster. Members of a cluster match you and most or all of the other cluster members. Every individual in a cluster will likely be on the same ancestral line, although the most recent common ancestor between any of the matches and between you and any match may vary. The generational level of the clusters may vary as well. One may be your paternal grandmother’s branch, and another may be your paternal great-grandfather’s branch.

You may see several gray cells that do not belong to any color-grouped cluster. They sometimes represent a shared match where one of the two cousins is too closely related to you to belong to just one cluster. A bunch of adjacent gray cells can be an indication that two clusters are related to each other.

A cluster (Click to zoom)

Below the chart, all clusters are displayed in list format.

The clusters in list format (Click to zoom)

In the list, for each cluster, you can conveniently view the family trees of your DNA Matches or access each DNA Match in order to contact that person. In a future version, we plan to include for each cluster the ancestral surnames and ancestral places that are shared the most by the cluster members. This can provide more clues as to the identity of the common ancestors of the cluster.

You can explore clusters of interest by viewing the family trees of its members and try to identify it. This can lead to new revelations about some of your own ancestors that you are currently unfamiliar with.

Accessing AutoClusters

Access AutoClusters by clicking the new entry “DNA Tools” in the DNA menu.

Accessing the new DNA Tools section (Click to zoom)

The new Tools page is the place where we are bringing together advanced tools such as the Chromosome Browser and the new AutoClusters tool. It is also available as a tab named “Tools” next to your DNA Matches and Ethnicity Estimate.
On the Tools page, click “Explore” on the AutoClusters card.

New DNA Tools section (Click to zoom)

You’ll arrive at the AutoClusters page. Simply click “Generate” to create your AutoClusters. If you are managing DNA kits for more than one person, select a DNA kit first for which you want to generate AutoClusters.

The AutoClusters page (Click to zoom)

Depending on user demand, generating AutoClusters can take anywhere between a few minutes to several hours.

Once we generate your clusters and they are ready for viewing, you will receive an email with an attached zip file with your clusters. This is the implementation for our initial release. In the future, we are planning to embed the clusters inside the MyHeritage user interface, and integrate them more tightly with your matches.

In the email, the zip file will include three files: an HTML file that contains a visual chart of the AutoClusters analysis, a CSV file that contains a spreadsheet version of the AutoClusters analysis, and a ReadMe.pdf file with some helpful information on AutoClusters that also describes the parameters we selected automatically for generating it.

For optimal viewing, save the files to your hard drive, extract the contents, and then open them.

Note that you can currently generate only one AutoClusters analysis per day for each DNA kit that you manage. This is a protection against excessive load.

Settings used for the AutoClusters analysis

To generate your AutoClusters, we analyze your highest-quality matches and divide them up into the color-coded clusters. We automatically select optimal threshold parameters (such as minimum and maximum shared DNA in cM, and minimum shared DNA for shared matches), in order to yield the best clusters for your specific DNA kit.

We’ll let you know the parameters we selected by listing them in the HTML file and in the ReadMe.pdf file.

Cost

AutoClusters is a premium feature that requires a site subscription on MyHeritage (Premium, PremiumPlus or Complete). Users who upload their raw DNA data from another testing service to MyHeritage and do not wish to purchase a subscription can pay a one-time fee of $29 per kit to unlock all advanced DNA features offered by MyHeritage, including AutoClusters. Learn more about our subscription plans here.

The AutoClusters feature works best if you test additional family members. For example, if you test your parent’s cousin, the cluster that he or she will appear in will implicate all the other DNA Matches in that cluster as being from the same branch of the family. If you have family members who have not yet taken a DNA test, especially elderly ones, this is a great time to expand your capacity to make new family history discoveries through MyHeritage DNA. Order more DNA kits today.

Conclusion

The new AutoClusters tool uses cutting-edge technology to make DNA Matching even more useful. It helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as individuals, and determine common ancestors with your DNA Matches. It is based purely on DNA results without involving family trees or records, and it augments the Theory of Family Relativity™ feature that we released yesterday.

Genetic genealogy is an exciting field that is constantly evolving with new and innovative technologies. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this revolution!

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  • Delbert A Ritchhart


    February 28, 2019

    Once again MyHeritage demonstrates its technological leadership and innovation in the world of online genealogical research.

  • May-liss utne


    March 1, 2019

    Very good l wil love it thank you and hug frome me

  • Dianne


    March 1, 2019

    Tried the Auto Cluster this morning but still no email at almost 6pm. Is it just that a lot of people have done it today or did it go somewhere else?

    • Esther


      March 3, 2019

      Hi Dianne,

      The demand is very high right now so you can expect a longer delay than usual. It should arrive soon.

      Best,
      Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Vladimir Morozov


    March 7, 2019

    It’s a great tool, and it actually demonstrates that MH is moving forward.

  • David Ring


    March 9, 2019

    This would be much more useful with different thresholds. The default settings screen out my known relatives (sharing 993 and 614 cM). My goal is to find clusters of others who also match those two.

  • Doug


    March 11, 2019

    Thanks so much for the Auto cluster function, but as at least one other has mentioned, I’m disappointed that no change of thresholds is allowed.

    • Esther


      March 11, 2019

      Hi Doug,
      We automatically select optimal threshold parameters (such as minimum and maximum shared DNA in cM, and minimum shared DNA for shared matches), for each DNA file in order to yield the best clusters. This eliminates the need to experiment manually with different thresholds and saves valuable time.
      Best, Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • Lois Pate


    March 14, 2019

    Sounds like a very helpful tool in sorting relatives into clusters and not individually— which is almost impossible,

  • Clemens, Richard D.


    March 15, 2019

    Interesting.

  • Anneliese Horst


    March 17, 2019

    Thanks to the AutoClusters I was able to discover a new relative. He was adopted, that’s the reason his lady name did not ring a bell to me. Now I know exactly how we are related and I hope he finds his natural parents.

  • Jack E Roseberry


    March 17, 2019

    Would like to know more about autoclusters

  • Shirley Gomes


    March 18, 2019

    I am interested in uploading my DNA to you from another site. Please advise how to do so.

  • Rita Howarth


    April 1, 2019

    It sounds fantastic.

  • Alexander Hosfeld


    April 8, 2019

    i want know written with my Name who i am and who my parent are-

  • Wiloiam (Bill) Deer


    April 14, 2019

    Auto clusters…..good step but i would be happier with it if it showed my son, my siblings and 1st cousins.

    • Esther


      April 14, 2019

      Hi Bill,

      Close DNA matches tend to break the clusters because they often appear in more than one cluster. Take for example your dad, if we were able to break your clusters into paternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, having your father in, can ‘mess things up’, because he will match with everyone in both clusters. This is the reason we use thresholds. What you can do is click on the matches in the clusters and from the shared DNA matches list have a better understanding who is how related.

      Best, Esther / MyHeritage Team

  • jacqueline vallerine


    April 24, 2019

    would like to know more about auto clusters?

  • Tim


    May 8, 2019

    All my ancestors are part of one endogamous group. I tried the AutoClusters tool, but it appears that none of the input values are adjustable — so the visual output was just one big cluster of pink dots. Making the cM values adjustable would make this tool useful to more users like me…