Bound Volume Number

3

Document Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2015

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Matthew Kurimsky

Honors Reader

Prof. Michael Sponsler

Capstone Major

Mathematics

Capstone College

Arts and Science

Audio/Visual Component

no

Capstone Prize Winner

no

Won Capstone Funding

no

Honors Categories

Sciences and Engineering

DOI

Forensics, ballistic evidence, firearms

Subject Categories

Forensic Science and Technology | Other Applied Mathematics

Abstract

Forensic Science encompasses many disciplines that employ the scientific method to examine, analyze, and interpret physical evidence in the courtroom. The discipline of Forensic Firearm Examination involves the examination and comparison of ballistic evidence components to determine if they came from the same source. In other words, firearm examiners are tasked with determining whether spent cartridge cases or bullets were fired through the same gun. Examination of ballistic evidence can involve the employment of automated matching systems, comparison microscopy, and mathematical analysis. The comparison microscope is the tool of the firearm examiner and allows for the simultaneous view of ballistic components. Through examination and comparison, the examiner determines if the components are an identification or an elimination, or are inconclusive. The use of automated matching systems is often a precursor to an examination and comparison, to determine possible matches with evidence stored in large databases. These systems employ mathematical techniques such as matching algorithms, transforms, and cross-correlation functions. Mathematical analysis involves the application of probabilistic thinking and statistical methods to articulate and support the conclusions of the firearms examiner. There is concern in the court system about the prominent presence of subjectivity in firearm examination. Mathematical methods can help decrease subjectivity, and they are unquestionably valuable for concepts of the discipline, such as consecutively matching striations. However, math does not eliminate the subjectivity of Forensic Firearm Examination and only proves valuable when utilized appropriately. The discipline deals with the comparison of individual characteristics that indicate if markings come from one tool and one tool alone. Fitting this idea into a statistical model is possibly an unsuitable course of action.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.