Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Software Designed To Help Identify Criminals Who Write Ransom Notes, Forge Checks

Date:
January 25, 2001
Source:
University At Buffalo
Summary:
Who wrote the Jon-Benet Ramsey ransom note? A computer program developed at the University at Buffalo that is 98 percent effective in determining authorship of handwritten documents soon may be able to assist in answering such questions.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Who wrote the Jon-Benet Ramsey ransom note?

A computer program developed at the University at Buffalo that is 98 percent effective in determining authorship of handwritten documents soon may be able to assist in answering such questions.

Funded by the National Institute of Justice, it's the first software program designed to develop computer-assisted handwriting analysis tools for forensic applications.

In criminal cases, the question of who penned a ransom note or forged a check is solved by human handwriting analysts. But because they are human, even the best graphologists cannot claim complete objectivity.

The UB software is the first that can identify who wrote a particular document based on purely scientific criteria.

"A human expert may put in his or her own bias even unconsciously," said Sargur Srihari, Ph.D., principal investigator and SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB.

"We have built the foundation for a handwriting analysis system that will quantify performance and increase confidence in determining a writer's identity.

"This is about validating individuality in handwriting," Srihari noted. "The idea that everyone's handwriting is different is taken for granted. What we have done is to develop purely scientific criteria for that premise."

It is the first time researchers have attempted to do that based on a large database of handwriting and by using a totally automated means of measuring specific features of human handwriting, said Srihari, who also is director of UB's Center for Document Analysis and Recognition (CEDAR).

CEDAR is the world's largest university-based research center devoted to new technologies that can recognize and read handwriting. It was CEDAR's expertise in developing systems that can read and interpret handwritten addresses on envelopes for the U.S. Postal Service that attracted interest -- and a $428,000 grant -- from the National Institute of Justice.

Providing a scientific basis for establishing the individuality of handwriting has become essential for admitting handwriting evidence in U.S. courts due to a number of recent rulings concerning expert testimony, Srihari said.

"In this project, we are developing a technology whose job it is to authenticate documents," said Srihari.

The UB researchers developed the software by first collecting a database of more than 1,000 samples of handwriting from a pool of individuals representing a microcosm of the U.S. population in terms of gender, age and ethnicity.

Multiple samples of handwriting were taken from subjects, each of whom was asked to write the same series of documents in cursive.

Instead of analyzing the documents visually, the way a human expert would, Srihari explained, the researchers deconstructed each sample, extracting features from the writing, such as measuring the shapes of individual characters, descenders, and the spaces between lines and words.

The researchers then ran the samples through their software program.

"We tested the program by asking it to determine which of two authors wrote a particular sample, based on measurable features," said Srihari. "The program responded correctly 98 percent of the time."

Srihari explained that human experts look for arcades and garlands, features that may distinguish one person's penmanship from another's.

The current software should be able to conduct that type of advanced analysis within the year, he added.

The goal of authenticating documents in criminal cases usually is to determine whether or not a particular suspect wrote the document in question.

However, the scientific approach that Srihari and his colleagues are developing also may be useful in establishing individuality (such as with DNA, fingerprints or facial features) in the emerging field of biometrics, which is the automated identification of a person based on precise measurements of physiological or behavioral characteristics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University At Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University At Buffalo. "Software Designed To Help Identify Criminals Who Write Ransom Notes, Forge Checks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010125080342.htm>.
University At Buffalo. (2001, January 25). Software Designed To Help Identify Criminals Who Write Ransom Notes, Forge Checks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010125080342.htm
University At Buffalo. "Software Designed To Help Identify Criminals Who Write Ransom Notes, Forge Checks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010125080342.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-Free Travel

AP (July 23, 2014) 'Ray' the robotic parking valet at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany lets travelers to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot before heading to the check-in desk. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins