Sunday, December 12, 2010

New research on the mathematical analysis of fingerprint evidence

Sindya N. Bhanoo, Calculating the Rarity of a Fingerprint NYTimes (December 10, 2010):
Researchers have found a way to mathematically calculate the rarity of a fingerprint.

Although fingerprints are unique to every individual, crime scene prints are usually incomplete patterns taken off doorknobs or glass.

Knowing the rarity of a partial print could be useful to forensic scientists who are trying to determine how valuable a fingerprint is as evidence, said Sargur Srihari, a computer scientist at the University at Buffalo who is leading the research.

... Dr. Srihari and his graduate student Chang Su say they have done the same for fingerprints [used the rarity of fingerprints to evaluate fingerprint evidence].

“It’s purely mathematical,” Dr. Srihari said. “We’re simply saying, ‘We just found something that is unusual, and that makes it an important piece of evidence.’ ”

To do the research, the scientists defined fingerprints as a series of points, composed of the endings of ridges and ridge bifurcations.

They then pulled from a database of 4,000 fingerprints kept on file at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and created a computer system that can read fingerprint patterns. Based on a print’s points, the system can mathematically determine its rarity.

...

The research was presented this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the annual Neural Information Processing Systems conference.

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The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

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