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CSAFE serves as a rigorous research center committed to applying proven statistical and scientific methods to improve the accuracy of the analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence. We collaborate with statisticians, scientists, forensic practitioners and other stakeholders to pursue this common goal.

Fair administration of justice requires the existence of scientifically valid methods to analyze evidence, relevant databases to support the analyses, and appropriate interpretations of the results of forensic evaluations.

Through our collaborations and initiatives, we are driving solutions to support our forensic community partners with educational opportunities, accessible tools and open-source applicable databases.


A Nation's Call to Action
Pattern evidence received criticism in the 2009 report by the NRC entitled “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward” (NRC 2009). That report highlighted significant issues with forensic disciplines previously identified by many. It called for a national commitment aimed at promoting and funding forensic science research to overcome the following barriers:
  • A lack of scientifically valid methods to analyze and interpret evidence.
  • A dearth of representative databases to develop new methods or test existing ones.
  • Few well-designed studies to estimate error rates including reliability and reproducibility of technologies used almost daily in court.
  • Chronically underfunded forensic science research.
  • Understaffed and overwhelmed crime labs.
A Follow-up
A subsequent report published in 2016 by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST, 2016) confirmed many of the findings in the 2009 NRC report. PCAST expressed concern about the lack of data and of foundational studies for most pattern comparison disciplines, calling for well-designed, scientifically valid studies to assess the reliability and foundational validity of these disciplines. It also stressed the need to assess the validity of methods as applied, including the performance of methods outside idealistic laboratory conditions, as well as the proficiency of the individual forensic practitioner who is applying them.
The creation of CSAFE in 2015 was one result of the government’s initiatives responding to the 2009 NRC report. It was a significant milestone in the national effort to infuse statistical thinking and rigorous, science-based standards into forensic practice.
CSAFE Progress
Research products, including novel statistical methods, algorithms and other software, and large, well-designed, curated and documented databases have been published in peer-reviewed outlets or placed in the public domain. Learn more.
Spreading Learning Opportunities
CSAFE scientists and graduate students have presented their work at all major national and international conferences in forensic science and statistics, and have led multiple training or educational sessions. Explore the available webinars.
The ASA Issues Guidance
In response to concerns that the use of forensic evidence such as shoe prints, fingerprints, bite marks, fibers, or hairs has contributed to wrongful convictions, the American Statistical Association (ASA) has released a document with guidelines for discussing forensic evidence.
2020 and Beyond
Looking to the Future
Renewal of the CSAFE partnership with NIST for a second five-year term features new initiatives in research and training designed to move research from CSAFE laboratories into forensic laboratories and courtrooms. With a reasserted focus on probability and statistics for pattern digital evidence and a new academic partner, CSAFE 2.0 transfers results into practice.
2020 and Beyond


Meet the 80+ researchers and
national practitioners of CSAFE.


Learn more about the two boards
that help advise CSAFE.


Find out more about the six institutions that lead CSAFE forward.