Until now, discerning an artist's style has been in the eye of the beholder. However, a new mathematical tool distills style into an array of statistics as a potential means to spot forgeries. In a recent study, the technique distinguished eight drawings by the 16th-century artist Pieter Brueghel the Elder from five imitations attributed to the master until a decade or so ago.
Several digital-imaging researchers, including the study's authors, agree that the work is only a first step toward a reliable fraud-detection technique. However, the preliminary findings are encouraging, comments David Donoho, a statistician at Stanford University.