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Basics: GEDmatch reinvented part 1

UPDATE 18-AUG-2019: Since the GEDmatch site and GENESIS are one and the same now I have updated this post to say GEDmatch rather than GENESIS

GEDmatch.com is a free 3rd party site of tools where you can upload your DNA test results and compare them with those from people who have tested at other companies. It is the new version of GEDmatch.com that can compare the data from many more companies than the original. Click here for my previous post written for GEDmatch users moving to GENESIS. Today’s article is to introduce the new version of the GEDMATCH basics to the new tester.

GENESIS Home page for my cousin who has only 2 kits migrated and is not a Tier 1 member

One problem for many users is that this site is not intuitive. GEDMATCH does not hold your hand and does not build your tree for you. You have to learn how to use the tools there to the best advantage for your own research. I have many posts on this blog for GEDmatch, . UPDATE 17 FEB 2019: Click here for the slides from my presentation about the basics of using this site from Saturday Feb 16, 2019, in Carlsbad for the North County DNA Interest Group (DIG).

To get started at GEDMATCH, you have to be registered as a user.  Your login will be your email address with a password you create. Some people prefer to use an email which they have created just for genealogical research. Easy to do at gmail, hotmail, or yahoo, among others and it is a way to create some privacy. Note that GEDmatch is careful to warn you when you register that their site can be used by law enforcement to try to identify violent offenders and victims. Click here to understand how your DNA can out a distant cousin who is a criminal.

Before you can use GEDMATCH to explore your test results, you have to download your DNA data from your testing company. Click here for the help page that GEDmatch provides on how to download your DNA. The file of your test results is quite large (about 700,000 lines of data) and zipped. DO NOT UNZIP it.

To upload your results to GEDMATCH you log in and then click on Generic Uploads (23andme, FTDNA, AncestryDNA, most others) in the right hand column under Upload your DNA files. That takes you to a form to fill out before doing the upload. You have to enter the name your kit was registered under, but you can choose to use a pseudonym to appear on GEDMATCH. Put it in the box for alias on this form. For example, all my cousins are called Kittys#CuzNN where the number sign is 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, and NN is their initials so that I know who they are! You have to change the No to a Yes after “You authorize this data to be made available for comparisons in the GEDmatch public database” if you want your results to be visible to your matches.  If you want to stay private, then leave it as is for now, but change it after it is uploaded to “Research” so you can use all the tools on the site but stay invisible. Once your or your cousin’s file is uploaded, you are assigned a kit id (2 letters plus several digits) which will also always show on your home page when you log in. You need a kit id to use the tools. You can upload multiple tests and manage them all from this one user.

You can make edits to any kit you own by clicking the pencil icon next to it on the left side of your home page. Click here for my presentation slide that shows you that edit screen and where to change the privacy to public or research or private.

It usually takes a day or two to fully process your kit so that you can run the most important tool: the one-to-many. That is the tool that lists your DNA relatives in the GEDmatch database. While you wait you can experiment with the ethnicity tools (called admix here) covered in my Gedmatch basics post and in detail in these slides (click here).

If some cousin, like me, asked you to upload and gave you their kit number, you can do a one to one compare with that kit before your kit is fully ready for the other tools. Click here for the slide that shows the form to make that comparison. There are slides following that one which have some examples. You can use all the defaults when you fill out the form with one exception: you may prefer to check the prevent hard breaks box at the bottom. That is particularly recommended for an X one to one. Personally I prefer to look at the image only comparison first, then I click back and select position only to get the numbers for each segment to put in my master spreadsheet.

Once you see a blue check mark on the line with your kit number on your home page (as in image above), you can run the one to many tool. That looks at all the other kits in the database to find people whose DNA matches yours. The more cMs you share, the closer the match.

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Getting Started with GEDmatch

UPDATE 18-AUG-2019: Although many of the concepts in this post are good to know and the ethnicity calculators are not changed. The GEDMATCH site has had a facelist and hes been replaced by what was previously called the GENESIS site. So better to read the following posts:

 

If you and a relative have tested your DNA at different companies, you can compare your results at a free third party site – GEDmatch.com – which also has many additional, useful tools for analyzing your DNA and looking at match lists. Learning to use those tools may take some time as they are not intuitive, so I am writing this post to help a friend, Barbara, start to use them.

The GEDmatch site can be intimidating for the less computer savvy. Like most any place on the web, you have to register by creating a username (your email) and password . Click here for more details on registering in my GEDmatch Basics presentation starting on slide 2. Please do not be put off by the extensive new Terms of Service you have to agree to. GEDmatch has to meet the current EU requirements plus they need to warn you that your DNA could be used to identify a victim or catch a criminal among your relatives.

Once you have a username and password and log in, you are presented with a home page which, again, is not very user friendly. The first task, which we already did Barbara, is to upload your DNA test data. Start with this slide https://slides.com/kittycooper/gedmatch-10-13#/9 for the details of how to upload and manage your DNA results, known as kits, to GEDmatch.

The image to the left shows the big blue box, called “Analyze Your Data,” which you can find on the right side of your GEDmatch home page. I have put a red box line around the functions that I find the most useful. One of the first things I do for a newly uploaded kit is check if the parents are related (yours were not Barbara, nor Martin’s).

Once your kit is uploaded, it still has to be “tokenized” which you can think of as being put into chunks for the template they use for comparisons; this can take 24 hours or so. While you wait to be able to use your kit to look for matches, you can play with the ethnicity tools. Please remember that figuring out the groups you descend from is a science still in its infancy and far from accurate yet, other than in the broad strokes.

Start with Admixture (heritage). For most Europeans, the Eurogenes calculator is best and the default K13 is fine, but for those of us with mainly Northern European ancestors, K12 is better. I have a whole presentation on just these calculators at https://slides.com/kittycooper/gedmatch#/

Although its creator has disavowed the Eurogenes Jtest calculator for listing your Jewish percentage (click here for his article), I find that if you add up all the obvious ethnicities: Ashkenazi, Western_Med, Eastern_Med, West_Asian, and Middle_Eastern, it is not that far off. The Jtest image above is from Martin, the only person I have ever seen AncestryDNA call 100% European Jewish; most of my jewish friends come out between 87% and 98% there.

Click here for the creator, Davidski’s Eurogenes blog posts on Gedmatch. Two important take-aways for me are that his ancestral clusters are much further back than the main companies and any ethnicity of 1% or smaller is likely noise.

Once your kit has tokenized, you can start using the most important tool, the One-to-many compare function which will compare your kit to all the kits in the database and then list your closest DNA relatives.

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MyHeritage DNA Matching: Excellent Enhancements

MyHeritage has kept its promises: tree matching, pedigree display, a place for notes, and best of all, a chromosome browser. Plus the cousin matching is finally quite good, at least for your closer cousins, and includes some triangulation.

A very nice new feature is the Ethnicities Map, a menu item under DNA, which gives you the common groups for any modern day country you select. Since a question I commonly receive from family members is “Why doesn’t my known German ancestry show up?”, it is great to be able to show them this map:

A picture says it better than telling them that in the DNA, northern Germans look Scandinavian, southern Germans look Italian, eastern Germans look East European, and western Germans look French. My maternal ancestors lived at the crossroads of Europe!

Uploading your results from another DNA testing company is still free at MyHeritage and you get many of the DNA features. Personally I have just a data subscription and a small tree (there is a 250 person limit for unpaid members). In a few weeks I will create an account for a cousin and see if this works as well as it is supposed to for completely free members.

After the recent change, the segment details for my matches to my close family are very similar to what I see on GEDmatch and 23andme, same chromosomes, similar sizes, slightly different boundaries. This is a wonderful improvement!

Since my ancestors are all fairly recent immigrants from Norway and Germany, I was hoping for some international matches when I uploaded my DNA results to MyHeritage last year. In practice, as usual, there were no Germans (testing is not popular there), but plenty of Norwegian cousins that I already knew about, plus a few new distant ones.

However, I did recently get a new close cousin match (1C2R-2C1R), Melissa from New Jersey. I will use her match to investigate the new improved DNA matching.
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GENESIS from GEDmatch: the new chip

Technology never stands still. The latest change affecting all of us who love using DNA for genealogy is a new chip from Illumina. The past six or so years of autosomal DNA testing have shown that the current chip is great for testers with European ancestry, but does not have enough SNP coverage to figure out the details of the ethnic make up for people from other parts of the world. Many more and different SNPs are tested in this new GSA chip.

All the 23andMe tests done since this past July use that chip, as does Living DNA (highly recommended if you have British ancestry since it does local regional breakdowns). I imagine eventually the others will follow along. The bad news is that there is not that much overlap between this chip and the previous ones, which affects cousin matching.

Debbie Kennet wrote a blog post describing the new chip at https://cruwys.blogspot.com/2017/08/23andme-launch-new-v5-chip-and-revise.html

Because the SNPs are so different the DNA results from these kits cannot be uploaded to GEDmatch, however our friends there have built another site to handle these new kits called GENESIS. They have come up with a whole new algorithm for relative matching that works with lower SNP counts.

At the recent i4GG.org conference (videos coming in February), I gave a presentation on what’s new at GEDmatch, the second part of it went into much detail about GENESIS, starting with this slide:
http://slides.com/kittycooper/gedmatch-10-13-23#/38

The functions available at GEDmatch are being gradually implemented at GENESIS. Most of the key ones are there now. Plus there is some new functionality. One major addition is the showing of the number of SNPs actually overlapping between kits. Very important to know since the overlaps can be as small as 108,000 SNPs or as large as 580.000.
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GEDmatch tools 2016

Recently I gave an updated talk about GEDmatch.com for my local DNA special interest group, DIG, here in San Diego. GEDmatch.com is a DNA geek’s playground, but many less computer inclined folk find it difficult at first.

My Favorite GEDmatch Tools

It is the only place for those who have tested at Ancestry DNA to compare their results to a possible relative, chromosome by chromosome. It also has many tools that are unique such as ancestry composition calculators with more recent breakdowns and more categories than the main companies. I covered those in detail in my original talk about GEDmatch tools. Those slides are at http://slides.com/kittycooper/gedmatch#/5

The new talk – http://slides.com/kittycooper/gedmatch-10#/ – covered uploading your data, how to manage your kits and mark a kit for research, and much detail on the one-to-many function as well as all my other favorite tools (starred in the image to the left).

There is a new 23andme upload which is nice and fast as it uses the API so you actually log into your account there rather than uploading a file.

It makes sense to upload all your kits when you have tested at more than one company but please mark all but one kit as research only, so DNA relatives are not confused by seeing so many versions of the same person.

 

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