Latest Issue of Science News


News

Calculating the geography of crime

A mathematician fine-tunes how to blend crime records, geography to track down serial criminals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Math as a tool for tracking down criminals has never been as precise as the TV show Numb3rs depicts. But mathematicians are developing better ways to at least estimate where a person on a crime spree might live.

Using information about the layout of a city, such as the location of similar crimes during the past few years, beefed up mathematical tools could improve estimates of where a criminal lives based on where he or she commits crimes, according to new research presented January 7 at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings.

"I feel like I'm in a gold mine and I'm the only one who knows what gold looks like," says Mike O'Leary, an applied mathematician at Towson University in Maryland who performed the new research. "There are so many good mathematical problems in this field" of criminology.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.