Skip to content

Fingerprint Science

Journal: The Annals of Applied Statistics
Published: 2018
Primary Author: Joseph B. Kadane
Research Area: Latent Print

This paper examines the extent to which data support the source attributions made by fingerprint examiners. It challenges the assumption that each person’s fingerprints are unique, but finds that evidence of persistence of an individual’s fingerprints is better founded. The use of the AFIS (Automatic Fingerprint Identification System) is problematic, because the algorithms used are proprietary. Additionally, the databases used in conjunction with AFIS are incomplete and not public. Finally, and most crucially, the finding of similarities between the mark found at a crime scene and a fingerprint on file does not permit estimation of the number of persons in a given population who share those characteristics. Consequently, there is no scientific basis for a source attribution; whether phrased as a “match,” as “individualization” or otherwise.

Related Resources

Psychometric analysis of forensic examiner behavior

Psychometric analysis of forensic examiner behavior

Forensic science often involves the comparison of crime-scene evidence to a known-source sample to determine if the evidence and the reference sample came from the same source. Even as forensic…
Implementing blind proficiency testing in forensic laboratories: Motivation, obstacles, and recommendations

Implementing blind proficiency testing in forensic laboratories: Motivation, obstacles, and recommendations

Regular proficiency testing of forensic examiners is required at accredited laboratories and widely accepted as an important component of a functioning quality assurance program. Yet, unlike in other testing industries,…
Implementation of a Blind Quality Control Program in a Forensic Laboratory

Implementation of a Blind Quality Control Program in a Forensic Laboratory

A blind quality control (QC) program was successfully developed and implemented in the Toxicology, Seized Drugs, Firearms, Latent Prints (Processing and Comparison), Forensic Biology, and Multimedia (Digital and Audio/Video) sections…
CSAFE 2020 All Hands Meeting

CSAFE 2020 All Hands Meeting

The 2020 All Hands Meeting was held May 12 and 13, 2020 and served as the closing to the last 5 years of CSAFE research and focused on kicking off…