David H. Kaye’s “Forensic Science, Statistics & the Law” Blog

David H. Kaye (DHK) is one of my favourite writers. He is truly prolific and always manages to provide great insights for the reader. His grasp of statistics, logic, and the law is second-to-none, and his ability to communicate those very challenging topics to his audience is equally impressive.

As a mini introduction, David “…is Distinguished Professor, and Weiss Family Scholar in the School of Law, a graduate faculty member of Penn State’s Forensic Science Program, and a Regents’ Professor Emeritus, ASU.” If you would like to see a list of his publications check out http://personal.psu.edu/dhk3/cv/cv_pubs.html 

Yes, DHK has written many things on many topics.1  But I would like to focus on his less formal writings from his blog  Forensic Science, Statistics & the Law.

Read more

Interesting and Useful Stuff

Pen scribble image

Forensic Document Examination is a complex area involving many different topics and abilities.  I am always looking for useful resources that can help me do this work and some of that information can be found online.

In time I would like to provide a more fulsome list of online resources pertaining to the different facets of this work but that is going to take a while to compile and it will be an ongoing project.  Still there are already a few websites I consider to be particularly interesting and useful.  I’ve compiled them into a list to serve as a starting point for a more complete and general list.

Some of these relate to Forensic Document Examination, some to logic and reasoning, and some pertain to programming and statistics (i.e., my main areas of interest). They are not listed in any particular order.  Other categories, and more sites, may be added from time to time.  In the meantime, I hope that you find them as interesting and useful as I have.  If you know of other sites that you think might be included here, please let me know via the contact page.  Enjoy!!

Read more

Prior odds — their meaning and significance

The concepts of ‘prior odds’, a.k.a., prior probabilities or simply priors, and ‘posterior odds’ come up in most discussions about the evaluation of evidence.  The significance and meaning of both terms becomes clear when viewed in the context of a “Bayesian approach”, or the logical approach, to evidence evaluation.  That approach has been discussed at length elsewhere and relates to the updating of one’s belief about events based upon new information.  A key aspect is that some existing belief, encapsulated as the ‘prior odds’ of two competing possibilities or events, will be updated on the basis of new information, encapsulated in the ‘likelihood-ratio’1 (another term you will undoubtedly have seen), to produce some new belief, encapsulated as ‘posterior odds’ about those same competing possibilities.

But what precisely do these terms, ‘prior odds’ and ‘posterior odds’, mean and how do they relate to the work of a forensic examiner?
Read more

Hilton and Mathematical Probability

In 1958 Ordway Hilton participated in Session #5 of the RCMP Seminar Series. His article was originally published in that series by the RCMP, and subsequently republished in 1995 in the International Journal of Forensic Document Examiners.1

The later republication included the following abstract:

In every handwriting identification we are dealing with the theory of probability. If an opinion is reached that two writings are by the same person, we are saying in effect that with the identification factors considered the likelihood of two different writers having this combination of writing characteristics in common is so remote that for all practical purposes it can be disregarded. Such an opinion is derived from our experience and is made without formal reference to any mathematical measure. However, the mathematician provides us with a means by which the likelihood of chance duplication can be measured. It is the purpose of this paper to explore the possibility of applying such mathematical measure to the handwriting identification problem to see how we might quantitatively measure the likelihood of chance duplication.

Hilton’s article was written in 8 main sections with references, and is followed by a discussion between seminar participants. Today’s review will discuss each section of the article in turn.
Read more

Propositions — key to the evaluation process

One of the key elements in the logical approach to evidence evaluation are the propositions used for the evaluation. They are, in a certain sense, the most important part of the whole process. At the same time, they are also one of the least understood.

Scales balancing Evidence

Today’s post explores the concept of propositions. I will attempt to describe what they are, how they are used, why we don’t change them once set and why they matter so much, among other things… all from the perspective of forensic document examination (though also applicable to other forensic disciplines).
Read more