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CSAFE provides a range of offerings to further its mission to cultivate statistically sound forensics research and to transfer knowledge and technological innovations to the greater forensic science community. Designed specifically for forensic practitioners, CSAFE Courses can enhance technical innovation through earlier alignment of measurement science with emerging and innovative fields of research.

With a particular focus on probability and statistical terms and concepts, attending a CSAFE Course will enhance a participant’s ability to implement methodology and thus produce more accurate analytical conclusions. Check back regularly to see the latest Courses on offer, led by CSAFE researchers and focused on making the latest developments in the field applicable to those working in the field and in the lab.

Short Courses are usually offered online and range from six to eight total learning hours. Each session will usually be two hours long and will include video and materials to cover a concept relevant to forensic practitioners. Full Courses can last as long as a semester and will cover a single topic in depth.

Please contact us with any questions about attending CSAFE Courses or if you’d like to see a specific topic covered.

UPCOMING Short Courses

Statistical Thinking for Forensic Practitioners

Session 1: October 22, 2021 — 10 a.m. – Noon CST
Session 2: November 5, 2021 — 10 a.m. – Noon CST
Session 3: November 19, 2021 — 10 a.m. – Noon CDT

Dr. Hal Stern introduces fundamental concepts from probability and statistics –– motivated by forensic issues –– followed by a detailed investigation of how they apply to assessing forensic evidence’s probative value. This Short Course will be held online in three sessions. Make sure to register for all three sessions because the content of later sessions builds on material from earlier sessions. Short course registrants who attend all sessions will receive a certificate of completion.


Hal S. Stern

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor and Chancellor's Professor

University of California, Irvine

Friday, October 22, 2021
10 a.m. – Noon CST
Instructor: Hal Stern

Probability is the mathematical language of uncertainty. Probabilities are used to describe the frequency or likelihood of events or to characterize measurement uncertainty. In this session, we introduce the laws of probability and their application in forensic settings. Specific topics include:

  • Definition and interpretation of probability
  • Basic laws of probability
  • Conditional probability and independence of events
  • Bayes’ Theorem and Bayesian statistics

Topics are Illustrated with examples drawn from forensic science and relevant legal cases.

Friday, November 5, 2021
10 a.m. – Noon CST
Instructor: Hal Stern

Statistical ideas such as sampling, point and interval estimation of population quantities, and hypothesis testing have direct application in forensic science. In this session, we start from fundamental ideas about variability (and its sources) in measurements used in forensic analysis, and discuss methods to ameliorate, quantify, model, and interpret variation and uncertainty in the evaluation of forensic evidence. In more detail, we will:

  • Talk about variability and its sources, and introduce ideas such as reproducibility, repeatability, and accuracy.
  • Briefly talk about populations and samples, and describe some sampling methods useful in forensic applications.
  • Introduce the idea of estimation of population quantities such as means and proportions and of methods to report the uncertainty attached to those estimates.
  • Describe how to carry out a test of hypothesis to compare two means and a test of equivalence to compare two means.
  • Demonstrate how statistical concepts can be used in the study of current forensic science practice (e.g., design and analysis of black box studies)

Friday, November 19, 2021
10 a.m. – Noon CDT
Instructor: Hal Stern

The National Academies report in 2009 and the PCAST report in 2016 encouraged consideration of quantitative approaches to assessing forensic evidence. In this session, we review two of the most often-suggested quantitative approaches, the two-stage approach and the likelihood ratio (Bayes factor) approach. Specific topics include:

  • The two-stage approach to assessing forensic evidence
    • The role of statistical tests in assessing the similarity of two samples
    • Approaches for assessing the relevance of observed similarities
  • Introduction to the likelihood ratio approach
    • Definition and interpretation of the likelihood ratio/Bayes factor
    • Possible applications to different types of evidence (DNA, trace, pattern)
    • Score-based likelihood ratios
    • Sensitivity of the likelihood ratio to modeling choices
  • Results of studies comparing different ways of expressing source conclusions