Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Airport Security: Researcher Proposes Statistical Method To Enhance Secondary Security Screenings

Date:
February 3, 2009
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
A researcher has found that secondary security screening at airports is mathematically flawed, and has identified a way to select people for screenings more efficiently and fairly.

A researcher at The University of Texas at Austin has found that secondary security screening at airports is mathematically flawed, and has identified a way to select people for screenings more efficiently and fairly.

Related Articles


William H. Press, a professor of computer sciences and integrative biology, proposes a method called square root bias sampling to statistically choose who should be taken aside for a more thorough screening. The method applies to situations where selection is based on individual profiles such as ethnic or racial profiling.

His finding is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For the paper, Press supposes that whoever is doing the sampling has accurate statistical information that some people are more likely to be terrorists than others.

The statistical effectiveness of profiling selected groups has been relatively unexamined and Press said he does not think that it is effective.

Press's idea applies when there is a primary screening that is uniform, and then the possibility of a secondary screening based on an individual's "profile" (their "prior probability").

At an airport, the primary screening is everyone who shows up and goes through the checkpoint, while the secondary screening is when someone is selected for a more thorough search.

The way it works starts this way: Say that someone from the profiled group, Group P, is 16 times more likely to be a terrorist than someone from the average group, Group A.

Using the square root bias, people from Group P should be screened only four times more often then people in Group A (four is the square root of 16). That reduces the number of people from Group P who are subjected to repeated screenings, but it still screens people from Group P more than the average person.

Press said the method makes the best use of scarce resources to screen people while not screening the same people again and again, as happens now.

An astrophysicist-turned-computational biologist, Press was looking for a way to sample long sequences of DNA when he hit upon square root bias sampling as a solution.

After arriving at the method himself, he surveyed the literature and found that Ruben Abagyan, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., had used a similar method in a different context.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "Airport Security: Researcher Proposes Statistical Method To Enhance Secondary Security Screenings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174811.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2009, February 3). Airport Security: Researcher Proposes Statistical Method To Enhance Secondary Security Screenings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174811.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "Airport Security: Researcher Proposes Statistical Method To Enhance Secondary Security Screenings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090202174811.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Labour Party Warns Britain's Health Service 'on Life Support'

Labour Party Warns Britain's Health Service 'on Life Support'

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Britain&apos;s opposition Labour Party Monday claimed the National Health Service (NHS) was &apos;on life support&apos; as it turned its attention to the state-run service, which is a key issue for the UK&apos;s May 7 general election. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pending Comcast-Time Warner Merger Has DOJ, FCC Concerned

Pending Comcast-Time Warner Merger Has DOJ, FCC Concerned

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) The Department of Justice reportedly has concerns a Time Warner-Comcast merger would create an entity too large in the cable and broadband markets. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico started the biggest oil spill in US history. BP recently reported the Gulf is recovering well, but scientists paint a different picture. Duration: 02:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Thai customs seize four tonnes of African elephant ivory worth $6 million at a Bangkok port in a container labelled as beans. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

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